How to Choose the Right Ocean Fishing Kayak

While most fisherman purchase kayaks for use in lakes, rivers and other relatively calm bodies of water, some of them prefer to add a sprinkle of excitement to their fishing adventures by going out into the ocean.

There’s no denying fishing in the ocean with a kayak is a very different experience than fishing inland. You'll need to carefully consider a variety of features to find just the right ocean fishing kayak to take out on the high seas.

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  1. Do you want a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak?
  2. What is your body weight and size?
  3. What kind of cockpit do you want?
  4. What kind of paddling will you be doing?
  5. How much do you need to store?

Do you want a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak?

The first decision to make is between a sit-in kayak or a sit-on-top. Sit-in varieties are the most popular choice for excursions into the ocean, but sit-on-top have their benefits, too.

A sit-in kayak offers greater control and protection while in the rough waters of the ocean. As you'll be sitting in a cockpit in one of these boats, you won't be exposed to as much water and wind as compared to a sit-on-top, owing to the fact sit-in kayaks sink lower into the water to cut down on wind shear: they have walls to keep sea water from splashing in.

Sit-in kayaks can be equipped with spray skirts for even further protection. These skirts attach to the rim of the hatch and travel up to your waist to keep wind and water out of the cockpit. Because they keep you dry and create an enclosed space that will keep you warmer, these types of boats allow for a longer fishing season.

Ocean fishing kayaks with a sit-in cockpit are typically a better choice for sea: they are longer and better equipped to handle waves.

Sit-on-top kayaks differ from sit-in types because they don't have a cockpit. As such, they don't offer much — if any — protection for wind and surf. As a matter of fact, you can almost guarantee that you're going to get wet while using a sit-on-top. However, this isn't always a bad thing. If you are using your kayak in a warm weather environment, like Florida, getting wet won't be a big deal.

As they lack a cockpit, sit-on-tops are a good choice for those who are somewhat claustrophobic and don't like the idea of being enclosed. It’s also perfect for those who worry about becoming trapped upon capsizing and those who would like to dismount to play in the water and then easily remount.

Sit-on-top fishing kayaks are a fine choice for ocean fishing, but only if you intend to stay in calmer waters. They units are wide enough to provide greater stability, which makes them slow. They also don't offer many contact points with your body to help control the boat's movement. Choose this kind of boat if you are more concerned with taking in some sun and having fun than serious fishing.

What is your body weight and size?

Your weight and size should always be a factor when buying any kind of kayak, but it's doubly important when searching for an ocean fishing kayak. Oceans are vast, and there are all kinds of conditions that you may run into. That means that you'll want you kayak to perform at its peak to keep you safe and comfortable.

Purchasing a kayak that is physically too small for your frame is just asking for trouble. You'll be cramped and uncomfortable, and you'll put yourself in danger. No matter how steady a kayak is, you'll never get to experience it because you'll always be worried about how you move.

By the same token, a kayak that is too large for your frame or capabilities — either in width or length — will be equally miserable to use. You may never truly feel in control of such a kayak because of how difficult they are to move.

Your bulk and an ocean fishing kayak's weight capacity must also reconcile. For example, if you weigh 250 pounds and purchase a kayak rated for 200 pounds, you may be able to fit into the boat and stay afloat in the water, but the boat will sink further than it should, creating unsafe conditions. This type of boat will be difficult to move and maneuver due to the increased surface contact with the water. And you will be more prone to tipping and capsizing.

When shopping for a new ocean fishing kayak, you must pay attention to its size and its size limitations to ensure a more proper fit. If at all possible, test a kayak in person to get an idea of the boat size you'll need.

What kind of cockpit do you want?

Assuming that you decide to go with a sit-in kayak, you now have to spend some time thinking about the cockpit.

A well-fitting cockpit is an important feature as it helps the kayak become an extension of you. A popular saying regarding sit-in kayaks is that you don't sit in them — you wear them!

Unless you intend to spend the money to buy a custom-fit kayak — which are extremely expensive — you'll need to find a unit that is a pretty good fit, and then purchase accessories to make it a perfect fit.

First decide, if you want a roomy cockpit or a tight-fitting one. If you'll be staying close to shore and away from rough waves, you can afford to go with a roomier option. This type of cockpit allows for greater comfort, letting you stretch and move around.

On the other hand, if you'll be heading out further into the sea or fishing in areas where the waters get choppy, you'll want a cockpit with a tighter squeeze. These types of cockpits don't present options for much movement and are designed to be installed with cushions, pads and straps to create as many contact points as possible.

With these kinds of kayaks, you can use your body as much as you use your paddle to make turns, lean and perform other maneuvers.

What kind of paddling will you be doing?

No matter where you go fishing, paddling is going to be a necessity. You want to be able to quickly and easily get where you're going, and you don't want to exert unnecessary effort to get there. To reduce fatigue and increase efficiency, you'll need to look at kayak length.

All ocean fishing kayaks are going to be longer than other kinds of kayaks— including recreational and whitewater ones; this is to help them deal with the increased movement presented by ocean waters.

Most ocean kayaks start at about 13 feet, and they generally top out at 18 feet, but you can definitely find some that span 20 feet or more.

If you'll be paddling in calm, relaxed waters, opt for a boat ranging 13 to 15 feet. This is long enough to offer some speed but also excel at maneuverability, such as turns. These types of boats are lighter in comparison to larger vessels, so they won't require as much effort to propel.

If it's your intention to travel far out to sea, you'll want a kayak that is speedy so that you can quickly get to your destination and start fishing. You'll also want something that is better equipped to handle larger, heartier waves. An ocean fishing kayak that measures 15 to 18 feet will give you that extra stability.

How much do you need to store?

Another consideration to ponder is storage space. What will you be taking on your adventures?

Smaller boats, the kinds you'd purchase for staying close to land, will have less storage space than long ones. This is fine if all you'll be bringing along is a tackle box or backpack. Search for a kayak that will keep the things you need most often close at hand.

Larger boats, on the other hand, naturally have extra space to give for storage purchases. These generally have sealed off tanks at the bow and stern to hold clothing, food and other necessities. These areas aren't really positioned to be accessed while you're on the water, so make sure your kayak of choice also has bungie storage and other holders close to your seat.

When choosing a boat, remember that you need to pay close attention to weight capacity. If a kayak's intended capacity is 260 pounds, it is going to include both rider and gear. You must choose your gear carefully to ensure that you don't overload the kayak and create unfavorable conditions.

Taking a kayak out into the ocean can be a fun, exhilarating and rewarding experience. To make sure that you're able to make the most out of your sea adventure, it's vital that you choose the right ocean fishing kayak. Consider the points above, and prepare to have a wonderful time.
Keep in mind that when fishing in the ocean, gulf or one of the Great Lakes, the fish are going to be much larger than those you catch in a river, regular lake or pond. You need a kayak that can handle the extra-weight, even if it’s just for the time it takes you land it.

Tip from Users:

One tip from one of Amazon’s customers is to find the tipping point of any ocean kayak before you take it out. Maybe you can try it out in quiet water where you can practice tipping it over and climbing back into it before you need to do something like this guy who recorded himself catching a shark.

Top 3 Ocean Fishing Kayaks
Ocean Fishing Kayaks #1: Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 #2: Malibu Stealth 14 #3: Ocean Kayak Prowler 13
Storage Available Bow, Stern, midway, small and large areas Bow and stern, Hinged Gator Hatch Below Deack rod Storage, large front hatch and small hatch w/ bucket
NMMA Certified Max Support Weight 600 lbs. 550 lbs. 475 lbs.
Seating Adjustable, Vantage iST included Not Included Foam seating
Width / Stability 38”/ excellent stability 33”/ good stability 28”/ good stability in 2’ waves
Power Method Paddle and Pedal Paddle only Paddle only
Unique Features H-Rail Mounting system turbo fileand Lowrance Ready Patented casting platform and adjustable doot track system Oversized rear tank well and internal rod storage
Price Check Price Check Price Check Price

#Number 1

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 Kayak Review

Hobie kayaks are known to be top of the line primarily for the consistent quality and innovation of each element of its products. Raves abound across the internet for the Mirage Pro Angler 14

The Mirage Pro Angler 14 takes the Number One slot among our Top 3.

  • Supports 600 pounds
  • Mirage Drive pedal system
  • Turbo fins come standard
  • Vantage ST seating system
  • Horizontal and vertical storage for up to six rods and tackle
  • H-Rail mounting system pre-installed
  • Lowrance Ready for install of fish finder
  • Paddle included
  • Retractable rudder system
  • Approximately 13.5-feet by 38” wide

The new Glide technology on Hobie’s Mirage Drive pedal system combined with the turbo fins and new tracing wheel does so much more than just free up your hands – it reduces leg fatigue. And, when you’re out on open water with no land in sight, you don’t want leg cramps! Every angler that has weighed in applauds the new Vantage ST seating with the new back bracing to support your lower back and the height of the seat that prevents leg fatigue.

Everywhere you look, there’s storage nooks tucked in here and there – including room for 6 rods. The newly added H-Rail system opens the door for all your attachment goodies and the fact that it’s Lowrance Ready means all you need to do is hook up your fish finder

Pros:

Smart design bow to stern, comfort, stability and top quality

Cons:

Weight (150 pounds), Price

With an Amazon perfect customer rating of 5 stars (out of 3 reviews), the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 14 is worth the big dollar price.

#Number 2

Malibu Kayaks Stealth 14 Sit on Top Kayak Review (Fish and Dive Package)

One of the reasons that this Malibu Stealth 14 is considered number two on our Top 3 list is it’s proven safety on the ocean. Users tout its proven capability in waters from the Finger Lakes of New York and Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Surf and the shallows and flats of creeks.

  • Supports up to 550 pounds
  • Patented casting platform
  • Adjustable foot track system
  • Deluxe hinged Gator Hatch( front) with a bungee system
  • Approximately 14-feet long by 33” wide at the beam

Between the weight capacity and amount of storage in the Malibu Stealth 14, allows you to pack your kayak with camping gear, head out across open water to a deserted island and have a weekend of camping fun with all the supplies you need.

The combination of the wide beam and the patented casting platform provides the extra stability that makes this one of the safest ocean kayaks for the wild waters of the Atlantic and Pacific. Yet, with its 12” depth, all you need is a mere 5-inches of water to float your way to the areas that other yaks and boats cannot go.

The standing platform is designed to allow you to stand in without feeling like the yak is

Pros:

Superior stability, great casting platform, adjustable foot track system, goes anywhere

Cons:

Seat and Paddle not included

dipping or tipping. And, the foot track system, gives you an additional method of tracking.

With an Amazon customer rating of 5.0 out of 5, the Malibu Kayaks Stealth 14 can be yours at a reasonable price.

#Number 3

Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Fishing Kayak Review (Angler Sit-On-Top)

The Prowler 13 is at the bottom of our Top 3. That said, getting on this list wasn’t easy. This yak is designed to handle rough waters such as the open ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Great Lakes.

That said, it is not meant for traveling from California to Hawaii on open water.

  • Supports up to 475 pounds
  • Seat included
  • 6” Storage Hatch with bucket inside
  • Oversized rear tank well
  • 2 Paddle keeps
  • Scupper holes in Bungee tank well for transducers for fish finder and/or GPS
  • Internal storage holds multiple rods below deck
  • Approximately 13-feet long x 28” wide

Between the weight capacity and amount of storage in the Malibu Stealth 14, allows you to pack your kayak with camping gear, head out across open water to a deserted island and have a weekend of camping fun with all the supplies you need.

The combination of the wide beam and the patented casting platform provides the extra stability that makes this one of the safest ocean kayaks for the wild waters of the Atlantic and Pacific. Yet, with its 12” depth, all you need is a mere 5-inches of water to float your way to the areas that other yaks and boats cannot go.

The standing platform is designed to allow you to stand in without feeling like the yak is dipping or tipping.  And, the foot track  system, gives you an additional method of tracking.

Pros:

Extra storage, rod holders included, oversized rear storage

Cons:

Paddle and scupper plugs not included; seat uncomfortable; dry hatch leaks

With an Amazon customer rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars, the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 Angler is one of the least expensive ocean fishing kayaks.