12 Best Fishing Kayak Buying Guide and Reviews

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This is Jeff and I welcome you to southtxkayak.com. It took me a while to create this website, but I think this will help you tremendously to find the best fishing kayak for your money.

Kayak fishing has come into its own in the last five years or so and is growing bigger every day. There are several reasons for this surge, one of which is the cost and maintenance of a good fishing kayak is considerably less than that of a small fishing boat.

Organizing the Best Fishing Kayak Reviews

Owing to the sudden surge in interest in kayak fishing, I have taken time to present tips about fishing kayaks for newcomers, including the difference in fishing from a kayak vs a boat.

I follow that with tips for everyone on what to look for before making your purchase as I’ll list some important factors that affect comfort, type, seating and accessories.

Finally, and after careful consideration, I decided to rank and review the best fishing kayaks in this article primarily by price categories and then with the type and sizes presented together. Price categories are arranged in four sections— from Over $5000 to Under $500.

I have also included a comparison chart at the end of each category rather than at the end of the article so that you can compare each brand and model to others of the same caliber.

Tips for Newcomers and Reminders for Veterans

Obviously, if you are reading this article, it demonstrates at least a modicum of interest in fishing from a kayak. So, for those who have never gone fishing in a kayak, there are two basics you need to know before going any further.

  1. A “fishing kayak” is not the same as a sporting “kayak” and the latter cannot be tricked out to turn it into one you can take out for fishing.
  2. Generally speaking, fishing kayaks are generally safe but they can tip over and you can fall out of them.

Do’s and Don’ts on Kayak Fishing

The Definite Do’s for First Timers:

  1. While you have your kayak on dry land, practice standing up and sitting down on it. If you find it is difficult to stand either because of awkwardness or seat position, plan on fishing while seated.
  2. Lay out all your gear before you leave home so you don’t forget that one ‘minor’ item that you’re going to end up wanting once you’re out on the water.
  3. If you have a boat, then you know that you stage your boat with the bow into the shore to get in and out. With a kayak, this is a really big no-no! You need to have your kayak sideways to the shore so that as you get in, one entire side is sitting in really shallow water.By having your kayak essentially bottomed out, it becomes much more stable and less likely to play flip-and-tip with you. If you tip over in it there, you can stand up and give it another try.
  4. Now that you have your kayak at the edge of the shore, practice standing and sitting again while it is afloat. If you are comfortable with the sensation, you’ll be fine in the deeper water. But, you don’t have to push yourself to stand-up it’s perfectly acceptable to fish from a kayak sitting down.
  5. Make sure you place all your valuables in a waterproof (and floatable – just in case) container and make sure you secure it with straps or bungee cords.
  6. Place your drinks, tackle, pliers and snacks where you can reach them easily.
  7. Stage and/or stow the fishing rods you are taking with you before you push off into the water.
  8. If you are going to use an electronic fish finder, mount and test it before you leave the shore.
  9. Sit in the kayak at the edge of the shore and reach for everything you are going to use or need. Double checking the positioning of all your equipment will prevent frustration and potential tipping of the kayak once you’re on the water.
  10. Practice paddling close to shore so that you get used to how the kayaking paddles work. They have an offset that boat paddles do not. Even if you have a horrid forward stroke, you’ll still get across the water just fine. It’ll just Iar you out faster!
  11. Even though kayak fishing is usually a one-man-one-boat sport, for the first three or four times you go out use the buddy system. If something happens, your buddy is there to help and vice versa.

Definite Don’ts:

  1. Don’t try to get into your kayak on dry land and then slide down a bank into the water! You’d be surprised how many newcomers do this. The problem is that at some point in the sliding, the bow and stern will be the only parts of the boat that have support and you’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’. In other words, get ready to get It!
  2. When landing a fish, don’t lean your torso over the side edge of the boat. If you do that you’ll be in the water and your catch will be gone before you can say “hi”! And, if you’re fishing in any lake or river in Florida, you have a 50/50 chance of meeting a water moccasin or alligator.

Fishing Tips:

Even a 10-pound fish can pull you and your kayak around the lake – which in itself is a bit fun and exciting. But, knowing that, it’s important that when you have a catch that you reel it as close to the edge of the kayak as you can.

Use a net to extend your reach rather than leaning over the side of the yak. If you lean a little too far over the edge, you can count on swimming and kissing your fish bye-bye!

When fishing in Florida and southern bayou waters:

Every single body of water – including the occasional swimming pool – in Florida has, had or will have alligators on any given day. Gators move from one body of water to another over land. They don’t usually attack a kayak but water moccasins do and they are able to climb over the sides of boats, canoes and kayaks.

Let’s Talk Equipment

Now that I have that out of the way, you should also know that when you buy a kayak it may or may not come with other things you will definitely need such as;

  • Paddles
  • PFDs (Personal Floating Devices – don’t confuse them with PDFs that you download online.)
  • Rod holders
  • Lockdowns
  • Electronics or place to put them.

the kayak fishing accessories

PADDLES

I am not ranking kayak paddles but they say a picture is worth a thousand words. So ….

Under $50.00

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These paddles are Intex Dual Purpose Kayak Paddle and Boat Oars found on Amazon. They weigh 3 lbs. which is light for oars but heavy for paddles. They are very inexpensive so many newcomers to the sport opt for these. However, cheap oars are cheap for a reason.
The shape of the paddle is flat and doesn’t catch and move the water very successfully. They work but you have to work a lot harder with these than you should.

$50.00 – 150.00

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In this close up of the paddle head on the Carlisle Adult Magic Plus is slightly improved over the flat nosed one previously but, as you can see it is not designed to scoop the water as much as it is to push or pull the water.
I am not saying this paddle doesn’t work. It does and some people love it. weighing only 2.6 lbs. this paddle is slightly spooned but if you are in very calm water, this makes it less efficient than if you are in moving water.

$150.00 – 200.00

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Werner Skagit FG IM is a 2-piece fiberglass blade paddle that weighs less than 2 lbs. The paddles are slightly concave and the angle can be adjusted left to right in 15-degree increments as you desire.
This paddle style allows you to move your yak in shallow waters— even in sandy bottoms— with little difficulty. The combination of the shape and weight of the paddle does half the work for you.

Over $200.00

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One of the best yak paddles is offered by Adventure Technology Eddy Whitewater Kayak Paddle. It is one of the few ergonomically correct paddles currently available for wrist comfort and positioning—especially in a sit-in kayak style. The blades are made of PVC with a 30-degree offset. The shaft is Carbon & Kevlar for extra strength and light weight
Compare the weight of this paddle with that of the first one, you’ll see why I said the first paddle was heavy. This one weighs less than 1-lbs, which is ideal for any type of water, including whitewater where every advantage is desirable.

PFDs – Personal Flotation Devices

The first qualification for a PFD is that it’s Coast Guard Approved PFD’s. This will insure that the fabrications are not sub-par and that the actually operate as described. They range in price from under $25.00 to over $200.00.

But, it’s more important that the one you select actually fits you and doesn’t restrict your arm movement for paddling or fishing. It should be snug but not tight around the chest. Additionally, it must have a closer system that doesn’t release if you bump it. If your kayak tips over, you need it to stay on and float you head-up to the surface.

Kayak Trailers

Hand cart style trailers are good for moving your kayak around the yard when you get home. Most of these trailers hold a single kayak so if you have two or more in the family, you may want to look at another version.

For example, these trailers can be easily hooked up to your car but are light enough to push around near the launch site or at home.

Roof Racks

Many yakkers use Roof Racks on top of their cars or trucks rather than buying a trailer. If you choose a roof rack, make sure that they are rated for the weight of your yak, since there is no one standard weight for them.

Electronics

Fish and Depth Finders are a bonus if you are competitive or don’t want to spend time trying to guess where the fish are hanging out. On those days when it’s equally as important to just relax on the water, read a book or enjoy the quiet of the surroundings, leave it at home!

Rod Holders

If the kayak you select has no rod holders (and, most do now), you can buy them separately. Each brand has its own mechanism for attaching it to your yak, so make sure you research thoroughly on all the parts you need.

Lockdowns

Why couldn’t I just say “bungee cords”? Because some fishermen like to use straps instead. When you are out on the water, bungees work better because you don’t have to wrestle with handles: just pop them on and off. But, when putting your yak up, using straps to keep the paddles and stored equipment in place is ideal, especially for a Sit-on Kayak.

Storage and Miscellaneous Extras

Every fishing kayak has some storage. The issue is how much. If you are a catch-and-release angler, you won’t need storage for your catch. Are you going to carry extra clothing for temperature and weather changes? Do you need a storage space for live bait or extra space for flies and lures? Is there enough storage for extra fishing rods, a camera, food and beverages and tools? How many containers will you be carrying with you?

Most fishing kayaks have more storage space than you’d expect but it is worth paying attention before you buy.

Here are some questions to ask yourself along with the ones above:

  • Where can you store your tackle box? Is it the right size and easy to reach without stretching?
  • Does the kayak have a place to keep rod tips safe? Will you have to install self-adhesive neoprene to cut the noise and protect rod tips?

Types of best Fishing Kayaks

Types of best Fishing Kayaks
Inflatable Sit on top /open Sit-In / Closed Pedal & Power
Properties Rubberized Polymylar Polyethylene or Fiberglass Polyethylene, Kevlar carbon, Fiberglass Polyethylene, Kevlar carbon, Fiberglass
Cost Check Prices Check Prices Check Prices Check Prices
Speed over water Noticeably Slow Slower than Sit-in Faster than sit on top Fast Pedaling/ Fast powr/ but less Control w/paddles
Weight Very Light Paddle Style – weights less then pedal or power Paddle Style – weights less then pedal or power Heaviest
Special Comments Primarily for use in small lakes, rivers, stream; some made for ocean but risky Most popular; easy to get in & out; easiest to stand up on; less skill needed to maneuver Best protection from wet & cold; need learning curve to maneuver well Pedal – Less stress on arms
Power – minimal stress on arms/legs until power out

Sit-on-top fishing kayaks are much easier to get into and out of, especially for those with any mobility issues – bad knees, arthritis, hip problems, etc. The seat is mounted above the water level which means that your body will be breaking the wind as you paddle along; it will give you a higher center of gravity.

Using yourself as a wind break is what makes them slower than a sit-in style. You may find that using a top quality paddle will be easier and compensate partially for the slower speed. The higher center of gravity will make them more susceptible to tipping you into the drink.
The other reason that this style is so popular is because you have a head start at standing up. The best stand up fishing kayaks (spell that more money) have platforms with non-skid surfaces that helps prevent slipping. If you purchase one in the lower price bracket, you can use an adhesive neoprene made for boating on the area for standing.

Sit-on-top kayaks usually have more limited storage options unless you purchase one from the over $1000 brackets. Some of the higher priced models do provide hatches for storage and if this is something you decide is needed, you may want to upgrade.

Sit-in fishing kayaks are easier to maneuver because your body is not acting like a wind break and slowing the forward movement due a crawl. You will be, at least, partially protected from lapping water – unless you tip over, of course – but, even then, some water will spill into the cockpit.

Wearing waterproof gear, always keeping your PFD on for safety and in case of flipping is just common sense to those who are experienced in Kayak fishing. Additionally, having storage under the hull will keep your belongings drier.

Even with good storage locale, if you take your cell phone or a mobile device of any kind, be sure to keep it in a sealed plastic bag when not in use. Think about it! Protecting electronics from getting doused means not having to say you’re sorry when you have to replace it.
Sit-in kayaks are more difficult to get into and out of especially if you are overweight, older or not as fit as you used to be. And, they do get uncomfortable after hours of paddling from place to place in search of your Moby Dick.

Be sure to choose a size in your price bracket that provides as much leg space as possible so you can stretch your legs and move around.

The Best paddle kayaks usually include a decent paddle but you still may want one that is ergonomic, if not included. Paddle kayaks are the least expensive for a reason. You’d be surprised how many anglers don’t realize how far they actually Int from starting point until they have to paddle their way back!

You get fishing and paddle over here and over there and next thing you know, you’re several miles from starting point.

Pedal and/or poIr kayaks are the heaviest type since you have some kind of mobilizing mechanism attached with these units A battery can easily weigh as much as an inflatable boat and the motor will add weight, as Ill. Even the pedal style will require two people to load it on a truck or trailer.

Most pedal and power types will require the additional purchase of a trailer— either for moving it from the vehicle to a storage area or for towing it to the fishing site

Tandem fishing kayaks whether paddle or pedal are slower than their counterparts. They are also longer and more difficult to maneuver. If you intend to have a fishing partner on board most of the time, a tandem style may be a better bet than having two single seaters, though.

Some of the top of the line kayaks I have listed here claim to be safe for Ocean fishing. But, there are ocean fishing kayaks that are made specifically for that purpose.

Before making your final decision on any purchase, compare the price of the yak plus any accessories that you would buy to the cost of one that already has all or most of the same accessories. You’d be surprised how much money you can save by upgrading to the best model.

Inflatable Fishing Kayaks

These are not for kids or for the pool! These are real fishing kayaks for adults, hikers and hunters who camp in off-road locations where roads are better described as deer paths than made for vehicles.

When you pump air into an inflatable kayak, it should be “firm” but not “stiff” and there is no way to tell if you put enough or too much without testing it with your hands. Sit on it before putting it into the water and test it with your full weight if you need to.

If you decide to try an inflatable kayak, be sure that it has NMMA Certification for weight limits.

The Inflatables below are the top rated fishing kayaks:

Sevylor Tahiti Hunt and Fish Kayak

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The Sevylor Tahiti Hunt and Fish Kayak is designed to be used in small lakes, ponds, rivers or streams. However, taking whitewater could be a major issue. Unlike many inflatable tandem fishing kayaks, the two inflatable seats of this unit are removable and can be positioned anywhere you want. If you use just one seat, a tall person will have leg room – always a nice feature if you’re fishing for a couple hours.

Features & Specifications:

It does well in windy conditions as long as there is minimal current. Sevylor uses Airtight® System and guarantees that it will not leak, part of the reason for this is credited to the multiple air chambers which act as a back-up to each other should one get punctured.

That’s not to suggest that you should stay out on the water longer than necessary because if one chamber gets punctured by a hidden object, the spare might also. But, it will keep you afloat while you get back to shore.

Sevylor also includes spray covers to help block splashes; but, if you’re going out to fish in a kayak, you should expect to get It. The bag that’s included allows for easy carrying from your vehicle or tent to the water.

It’s rated at a maximum weight capacity of 360 pounds with NMMA certification. weight capacity means all the weight that goes into the boat – not the total weight of the passengers. Food, tackle, rods, paddles, tools and extra clothes plus the weight of the passengers needs to be considered.

Inflatable yaks are slower than any other type. Plus, they don’t maneuver as easily as one of solid materials. It will take some getting-used-to but it does give campers and hunters an option that other kayak types just don’t.
You will have to invest extra for an inflation pump, skegs and a paddle or two as well as miscellaneous items like bungee cords. Be sure to put the skegs on prior to inflating!

Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak with Deluxe Package

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While looking more like a tandem canoe than a kayak, the Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak does the job of a sit-in style kayak.

Features & Specifications:

With the I-beam construction, the high frequency welded seams and the extra thick, K-80 33 mil Polykrylar hull, this kayak is safe for even rapid currents. (The thickness is heavier than an above ground pool’s liner.) Well, they say “whitewater” but unless you’re really skilled at navigating across spirals of water moving at 50-mph, maybe it’s better to stay clear of it.

This is the only inflatable kayak that includes a 3-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship from the manufacturer. If you stab it with a knife, you’re on your own.

The interior measurement, which for the passenger is the most important, is 13” wide by 9’6” long. The average adult that is on the slender side would still find this a snug fit, so try sitting inside a 13” wide box before you purchase this unit.

There are 3 inflated tubes each 9” in diameter, with their own one-way valve to prevent air from escaping when you remove the pump. These chambers of this kayak support up to 500 pounds of total loaded weight.

Another unusual feature for inflatable kayaks is the self-bailing drain valve that is easy to use even on water. This comes in especially handy if you’re in rough water or tempt fate and try for the rapids. It is rated by the Coast Guard to be safe for use in up to Class III whitewater, but since you can’t mount a motor on it, you’ll need some experience first.

The deluxe package includes a paddle, a foot pump, a bag that actually holds everything that is included without a struggle. It takes about 35 – 45 pumps to inflate each chamber but it really doesn’t take that long to have all three puffed up and ready to float. And, inflating the seats only requires 4 -5 pumps each.

The paddle of the unit will work – in a pinch – but if you want to save your energy for catching fish, invest in a better paddle. (Paddles are interchangeable with any kayak, so what’s there to lose?)

The seats are firm and for fairly comfortable – much like sitting in an office chair. If you are on the heavier side, you might want to bring an extra cushion or back pillow.
The unit does include two skegs that are molded to the yak so there is no installation needed. Skegs assist in tracking and keeps your rear from wandering willy-nilly across the water. Without skegs you can paddle in circles for hours!

When you’re finished fishing and back to shore, deflate the yak, roll it up like a sleeping bag, tuck it and all the gear into the bag and toss it into the trunk. The yak package only weighs about 26 pounds – about the weight of a 2-year old – so it’s easy for one person, even a woman, to carry.

Coleman Quikpak(TM) K1 1-Person Kayak

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Sevylor made this sit on top fishing kayak for Coleman – the ultimate camping brand – and for good reason. TheColeman Quikpak(TM) K1 1-Person Kayak is made for campers, hikers and backpackers. It comes as a backpack and inside-yak. The pack then becomes the seat.

Quite ingenious, really.
The NMMA certified this yak for up to total weight load of 400 pounds but one user on Amazon suggested it would be better for slightly less load than specified. Of course, that user admitted to weighing 355 lbs. Even with that, she and the approximate gear she took with her could have been slightly more than she estimated. The only thing that happened is that her butt got wet but that should be expected with almost any kayak – especially inflatables.

Features & Specifications:

There are 5 air chambers in total – 2 large, 3 smaller. The Airtight System is guaranteed against leaking supported by the double lock valves that use two locking points for inflating and deflating. The backrest is molded into the body rather than separate and is there to support the backpack-turned-seat for extra back support.

Unlike other yaks, this kayak includes multi-positional foot rests to help alleviate the strain on cramping legs. There is one secured area where you can attach bungee cords to make sure stuff stays put and one open area at the rear for placing items you’ll use most.

It does have a cup holder which works for small containers—a nice feature if you need to put your drink down to pull in that fat fish that’s taking you out to sea. The handles are easy to grip which makes pulling the yak out of the water much easier than a rope.

The overall exterior size is 8’7” x 36” which makes the interior approximately 8’ x 32”. For a yak, this is a good width. It’s a good idea to set it up once or twice when you’re at home so that you aren’t struggling with it in the wilderness. Getting the seat on is the only tricky part but you want to look like you know what you’re doing if you try it out at a pond or stream with people around.

The unit does include a hand pump and one paddle that breaks apart to fit in the seat-turned-back-into-a-backpack. One tip on deflating this yak: the pump has the ability to suck the air out as Ill as fill it. Use the deflate capability on the pump to make sure you get all the air out before trying to squeeze it into the pack.
For the price and the comments from verified users on Amazon, this is one of the best cheap fishing kayaks on the market.

Inflatable Sevylor Tahiti Hunt and Fish Kayak Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable w/ Deluxe Package 2-Person Coleman Quikpak (TM) K-1 1-Person Kayak
Price Check Price Check Price Check Price
Max Support Iight NMMA cert. to 360 lbs. NMMA cert. to 500 lbs. NMMA cert. to 400 lbs.
Length 10’ 4” Interior: 9’ 6”
Exterior: 11’ 2”
8’ 7”
Weight 37” Interior: 13”
Exterior: 34”
36”
Seating Inflatable adjustable seats with back rests Two Removable Inflatable w/inflatable backs Backpack turns into padded seat
Features Multiple air chambers for backup, Dbl lock valves, carry handles, carry handles High Frequency welded Seams, Three Inflated chambers, Inflated I-beam floor, Two inflatable skegs, 3 one-way valves, bow and stern grab line 21-gauge PVC, tarpaulin bottom, multiple air chambers, Dbl. lock valves, multi-position footrest, cup holders, includes pump and paddle
Warranty 90-day limited 3-Year Limited 90-day limited

Best Fishing Kayaks Under $500

To make our list of top rated fishing kayaks for under $500, I evaluated the stability, features that were included and how actual users felt about them. As you will see, I have included both sit-on-top fishing kayaks and sit-in fishing kayaks.

All of the fishing kayaks below are what is called “hard sided” since they are made of some type of PVC or polymer combination. It also means that they are heavier than the blow-up types.

Another thing to know about models in this price bracket is that they are not going to be as fast or complete as higher-priced yaks. You may need to purchase add-ons such as paddles, rod holders, bungee cords, railings, etc. in order to have everything that will make your fishing excursion what you hope it to be.

It’s important to realize that while there is nothing wrong with these yaks, they are not top of the line.

But, they are the best fishing kayaks under $500.

FeelFree Move Angler

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Number one on our list under $500 is the sit-on-top, Feelfree Move Angler. This is a sit-on-top style that has 40” of leg room and holds a maximum of 240 lbs. Since the cockpit is only 29.75” wide, it is made for a smaller adult or older child. The shape of the hull makes it more stable than some other models in the same range.

Features & Specifications:

It weighs 42 pounds on its own so an average teenager or adult should have little problem with carrying it. Additionally, there are three integrated handles located at the bow, stern and side to make carrying it easier.

It does come with one covered hatch where you can store stuff and keep it from getting It. The rear storage area is uncovered but the inset area does have a built-in bungee system to keep storage boxes and gear from jumping out in rough water. The cords will not keep anything in the yak if it tips over, though, so investing in extra bungees is recommended.

In this price range, the seats made by King Fisher are an upgrade from the norm and are extremely comfortable even after hours of sitting. Directly in front of the seat are two raised gridded areas for standing – one for each foot – which means that you will be casting forward rather than over the side as you might in a boat.

There are two rod holders with security leashes so they don’t disappear when you close your eyes. There is a wheel in the keel that helps to keep the travel line straight.

The FeelFree Move Angler is designed for rivers, lakes and estuaries.Taking it over rapids or out in the ocean could be dangerous.

Pelican Intrepid 100X Angler Kayak

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Pelican International is noted for two things:

  • The absolute best customer service of any company – kayak or otherwise – anywhere in the world.
  • The best fishing kayaks for the money, regardless of the price point you select!

This Pelican Intrepid 100X Sit-In Kayak is a prime example of the quality of their products. The twin-arched, multi-chine hull cuts through rough waters, making the ride smoother than you would expect.

Features & Specifications:

The seating system by Ergoband is designed to relieve stress on the thigh and butt. Add to that the adjustable footrests and knee pads and you’ll know why so many anglers rave about Pelican products.

There is one 4” day hatch just behind the seat that includes its own waterproof storage bag. Behind that is the storage platform with a permanent, pre-installed mesh deck cover. The deck cover has its pros and cons.

If you have a cooler that you would rather place there, it needs to fit under the cover, which makes it difficult to open the cover, without removing the whole thing. But, on the pro-side, it is perfect for stashing a PFD or some spare clothes.

There is also a smart phone holder but you should still put your’s in a sealed waterproof bag first. If you’ve ever killed a phone with water, you’ll understand.

The 37 pound carrying weight makes this kayak light enough for a woman to handle on her own. Maximum weight capacity of this unit is 300 lbs. but since the cockpit area is only 25” wide, the unit is made for those on the slim side. There is more leg room than is typical with a cockpit length of 47”.

There are no rod holders so this will be an added expense but it has a manufacturer’s warranty: make sure to register the warranty as soon as you get the yak! The company is liberal with their warranty coverage so if something happens and you need parts replaced, call the manufacturer right away. It may be covered even if it isn’t specified!

This type of boat is made for fishing in lakes and lazy rivers. It is one of the best bass fishing kayaks in the price point because of its stability.

Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 Fishing Kayak

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If thisSun Dolphin Excursion 10 Fishing Kayak doesn’t scream fishing while hunting, then there probably isn’t one that does. The coloring and lack of shine of this kayak makes it difficult for fish and birds to realize that you’re in their territory.

Of the three best kayaks under $500, this unit is the least expensive. At 30” wide, it allows a slightly larger person to sit inside it. The overall length of the unit is 10’ which is the same as the others on our list. Weighing approximately 41 pounds, the kayak can be lifted by one person and put in the rear of a truck or on a car-top rack fairly easily.

Features & Specifications:

The seat is adjustable with high back support. However, there is no padding: you might want to invest in a padded seat if you plan to spend more than an hour in it. The shock cord rigging on the rear deck allows for an ice chest or extra clothing while the storage hatch in the front does have a waterproof closure.

There are 3 rod holders included in the unit which saves time on finding the right one. You will have to purchase a paddle, though.
Sun Dolphin is a respected name in kayaks. Its customers tend to be loyal, which speaks to the quality of the products the company manufactures.

Overall, this is your bare bones basic fishing kayak that works Ill on lakes and ponds, has a large open cockpit for ease of getting in and out. The manufacturer also provides a 2-year limited warranty for defects only. Additionally, you’ll also be provided with a phone number in the U.S. to call if there are questions or problems.

UNDER $500 FeelFree Move Angler Sit-on-Top Fishing Kayak Pelican Intrepid 100X Sit-In Kayak Sun Dolphin Excursion 10 Sit-In Fishing Kayak
Price Check Price Check Price Check Price
Max Support Iight 195 lbs. 300 lbs. 250 lbs.
Length 9’ 10’ 10’
Weight 29.75” 25” (Cockpit 25” x 47”) 30”
Seating King Fisher Seat Ergoband Seating System Deluxe Adjustable High Back Seat
Features Wheel in keel, 3 carry handles, 2 rod holders, front storage hatch, optional skeg, drink holder Kneepads, Smartphone holder, storage platform with mesh deck cover; bungee cords, 4” day hatch w/ storage bag Large open cockpit, adjustable foot braces, storage hatch, shock cord deck rigging
Warranty Not defined Manufacturer Mfg.’s Limited 2-year

Best Fishing Kayaks $500 – $1500

The next price bracket up is kayaks that range between $500 and $1500. All three are top of the line brands and the prices are spread across the spectrum.

eMotion Glide Sport Angler Sit-Inside Kayak

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One of the most popular makers in kayaks is eMotion and this eMotion Glide Sport Angler Sit-Inside Kayak is at the top of the list in this price bracket.

Features & Specifications:

The heavy-duty adjustable foot brace of the unit is ideal when you are in battle with a big fish. In fact, this is when the paddle keeper comes in handy so you’re not worrying about where your paddle is going to be once you get that fish on board.

The yak only weighs 37 pounds and the modified v-shaped hull assists in extra stability and tracking. There are shock cords at both bow and stern of the unit, so you can carry extra items without worrying that they’ll be floating back to shore without you.

Add in a really comfortable padded seat with thigh pads and then, let it fold down so it’s not in your way when you’re casting or dragging an old boot up to yak. The flush mounted rod holders makes it easy to set your rod down while you eat, remove your drink from the built in cup holder or are telling your buddy in the yak next to you about the prey that got away.

As long as you don’t put more than 275 pounds into this fishing kayak, your 5-year limited warranty is good to go.

WILDERNESS SYSTEMS Tarpon 100 Kayak

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Even though this fishing kayak seems rather slim, it’s wider than the eMotion yak which means that it has a bit more room inside – in case you ate too many sandwiches last time out. Additionally, the unit is a tiny bit less likely to tilt when you get in and out.

Features & Specifications:

The AirPro Sit-On-Top seat was specially designed for better back support and ventilation which everyone appreciates after a couple of hours in the sun. Self-bailing scupper holes means you don’t have to be distracted to check to see if you’ve been taking on water. Plus, you don’t have to find that cup to toss it out, either.

When it comes to storage, you have hatches at the bow and stern that seal tight to prevent water from seeping in, plus bungee cords as Ill as gear storage pockets all within arm’s reach. At the stern, the bungee system will accommodate a large, dry bag for gear, the fish you landed or a respectable sized cooler for lunch and beverages while you’re out fish-hunting.

This yak is made in the USA and has a maximum capacity is 325 lbs, best for when you want to float across lakes, ponds and bays. Some users have stated that they have used it in Class II whitewater. Weighing in at 55 lbs. a fairly strong person should have no trouble grabbing the padded carry handles of this unit and go to the next pond over or carry it on shore.

Jackson Kayak CUDA 12

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The final choice is one of the most Ill-equipped and professionally tested fishing kayaks on the market. The Jackson Kayak CUDA 12 is made by noted competitor kayak fisherman, Eric Jackson who competes on the FLW Tour.

If you can only afford to buy one fishing kayak right now, this is the one you want.

Features & Specifications:

As a matter of fact, this is exactly what Eric Jackson designed it for! It’s 12’ long, weighs 70 lbs. without the seat – 75 with the seat. At 31” wide, a big guy – with the weight capacity of 350 lbs. – can use this boat and feel like you’re not about to take a bath with every wave that pops up.

There are a variety of storage types that come pre-assembled with the unit— including a hinged, center hatch with its own tub. Check out all the incredible assets this kayak provides.

$500 – 1,500 Jackson Kayak Cuda 12 Sit-on-Top Kayak WILDERNESS SYSTEMS Tarpon 100 Sit-On-Top Kayak Emotion Glide Sport Angler Sit-Inside Sit-in Kayak
Price Check Price Check Price Check Price
Max Support Iight 350 lbs. 325 lbs. 275 lbs.
Length 12’ 7” 10’ 9’ 8”
Weight 31” 30.5” 25” appx
Seating Elite 2.0 Phase 3 AirPro Padded, adjustable & fold-down seat
Features 2-layer Standing Pad, Line Cutterz, 2 RAM 2007 rod holders, ergonomic handles, fish grips, seat pouch Keepers’ XL foot brace, self-bailing scupper holes, 2 hatches, pocket storage for gear, molded cup-holder, SlideTrax for extra accessories 2 flush mounted rod holders, adjustable foot braces, bungee rigging on bow and stern, paddle keeper, rear foam block, thigh pads
Notes Rod Storage in Hull Made in South Carolina 5–year Limited Warranty

Best Fishing Kayaks $1500 – $2500

There are more expensive kayaks – usually in the power models – and are spectacularly outfitted. But, I am cutting this off at $2500 since this is generally the top price that most people prefer to pay for their hobby.

Viking Kayak PROFISH GT

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VikingProfish GT, the New Zealand based manufacturer, makes some of the finest fishing and sporting kayaks in the world. They are somewhat difficult to find in retail stores in the States but you can order them online and have them shipped. This sit-in fishing kayak has wider casting platforms and a more open cockpit than the traditional sit-in kayak which is perfect for casting— either seated or standing.

Features & Specifications:

This yak was specifically designed for fishing in high surfs off the New Zealand and Australia coast: the Reload pods that are exclusively designed by Viking makes loading and unloading the yak a breeze.

The unit comes with the Tackle Pod but you can also purchase a Kid Pod (no, you don’t stash your kid inside!), Chill Pod or Flat Deck Tackle Pod separately.

Weighing in at 53 lbs. this fishing kayak is just shy of 12’ long making it easy to maneuver and with the wider surfaces, it becomes much more difficult to tip over even in high waves.

Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 Sit-on-Top Kayak

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ATAK stands for “Advanced Tactical Angling Kayak” which is to say it is versatile under most conditions. This is a Pedal Style Sit-On-Top kayak with a low-wind profile.

Wilderness is considered the Number One kayak maker in the world which is one reason you don’t see any of this maker’s yaks in the less expensive categories. The ATAK 140 is very much worth the price.

Features & Specifications:

Because of the cockpit design, a big guy – say 6’ 3” at 280 – will be comfortable and tilting is at a real minimum even when high waves precede a storm. The 550 pound weight capacity of the unit leaves a lot of room for gear, food, extra clothes and all the latest accessories.

This model is available in several different colors—cherry red and camo brown included.

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The adjustable seat is Ill padded and the metal frame means it’s going to stay in the position you put it in and doesn’t depend on the yaks fabrication for support. The seat can be placed at any point in the cockpit.

The speed paddle is above par but you may want an ergonomic type if you are going to be using the yak a lot.

Hobie MIRAGE OUT BACK Sit-on-Top Pedal Kayak

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Hobie ranks number two in kayak makers worldwide and if you’ve spent more than 10-minutes online looking at fishing kayaks, you’re bound to have stumbled across this Hobie Mirage Outback. The deck and seat are new designs mainly to ensure more comfort and security when standing up to fish.

Features & Specifications:

The strap-over pedals prevent your feet from sliding off just because a wave passed by or your boots are It. If you have never used a pedal style kayak or are unsure if you should opt for pedal or paddle,style kayak or are unsure if you should opt for pedal or paddle, consider the fact that every time you have a fish on your line and it’s carrying you closer to the banks, you have to drop your rod and paddle to a better position and lose about 38% of fishing time because you find yourself in the weeds.

Paddle kayaks are great for those who are fishing in lakes and ponds where you have plenty of space to be carted around by a fish. It sort of reminds one of the old man and the sea, doesn’t it? Hmmmmm … pedals, anyone?

Hobie has included a sail mount on this model and the ventilated adjustable seat sits high enough off the flooring so that your legs aren’t cramped up at the end of the day. It comes with a two-piece paddle with in-hull storage so it doesn’t get misplaced when you’re loading up for the ride home.

Because of the weight and size, you may find that a small pull-behind trailer that you can wheel around on your own is a back-saver.
You can pull the rudder out of the water with the use of an innovative cable system that operates while you are in the yak! No more reaching into the water before you get too close to shore!

$1,500 to $2,500 Hobie Mirage Outback Sit-on-Top Pedal Kayak Wilderness Systems ATAK 140 Sit-on-Top Pedal Kayak Viking Kayak PROFISH GT Sit-In Kayak
Price Check Price Check Price Check Price
Max Support Iight 400 lbs. 550 lbs. 400 lbs.
Length 12’ 1” 14’ 1” 11’ 9”
Weight 33” 34” 32”
Seating Vantage CT adjustable fold-up seating AirPro Max w/ 3 positions Propelz fisherman seat
Features Front & rear hatch w/ removable tackle tray, 2 adjustable rudders, steering control next to seat, 2 paddle holders with bungee leashes, seat back is self-inflating and base is honeycombed for comfort Flex Pod OS fully removable console pod for battery, cables, fish finder and transducer, 4 hatches, large-sized rubber padded pedals, uninstalled floor pads, side grab handles and paddle pole rest Vikings’ own Reload Tackle Pod included as standard, fish finder mounting area, large rear storage Ill, front mounted oval hatch for extra gear, Propelz speed paddle, and 4 flush mount rod holders
Notes 60” of leg room Check the site link for all the accessories included Made in New Zealand for lakes, rivers and ocean

If I were to pick just one of all the fishing kayaks in this review, it would be one of these last three— and I can’t choose which one, sorry but I’ll have to leave the final word to you.