Whether you plan to go fishing, touring, or just enjoy paddling on the water, buying the best fishing kayak is essential.
However, with technology and products changing at an alarming pace, this selection is not always easy.
This is because there are so many options including inflatable, collapsible, and hard-sided kayaks to choose from on the market!
In addition to that, numerous maritime considerations will affect performance and determine what is best suited for what activity.
For instance, while a canoe is great for flat water, it would be terrible for white water, by nature, white water is rough and bouncy and a flat-bottomed canoe is likely to cause many injuries while bouncing on this perilous course.
It is for this reason that the best vessel for whitewater is a raft.
In addition to navigation issues prices is a factor that will limit what you can buy. While hard-sided and collapsible kayaks perform marvelously, these are very expensive and often require a lot more maintenance.
A cheaper option for recreation would require choosing from the many inflatable options available.
While inflatable options may be cheap, these require compressors for inflation and will often require special valves to make the process of inflation and deflation fast and simple.
In addition to all the above, there are additional comfort and customization issues that will make specific products preferable.
For example, any inflatable raft with removable or adjustable seating will definitely be better than one with fixed seating, rod holders, storage space…the list is endless.
However, when classified based on design and function identifying the best fishing kayak is much easier.
Let’s take a look at the different categories to choose from, and what to look for from each one!
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Best Hard-Sided Sit-Inside Fishing Kayaks
A hard-sided fishing kayak includes all fishing kayaks constructed as a solid structure. While these tend to perform well, they are often more costly and will require more maintenance.
In addition to cost and maintenance, a hard-sided kayak will create the need for additional transportation and storage mechanism.
These costs contribute toward making these vessels surprisingly expensive.
Such a vessel will require some form of covering to keep it safe from the weather when not in use.
However, as with any fishing vessel, the best in this category should have suitable fittings to hold fishing equipment such as rods as well as oars.
In most cases, the best hard-sided sit-inside fishing kayaks will come with a set of oars and should be protected by a reliable and comprehensive warranty.
Depending on the purpose of the boat, the hull design should facilitate excellent tracking and maneuverability.
Given that these are often used in competition, it is important they include reinforcement and useful extras such as spray protection and a suitable draining mechanism.
Where possible, plugs should be included to allow the vessel to be used in various waters.
For increased performance, the rod holders should be in various positions to provide a wider field for fishing.
Best Inflatable Sit-On-Top Fishing Kayak
While many people are still getting used to kayaking, the concept of sitting in a tight enclosure may not be appealing. Sit-on-top kayaks were designed to improve the possibility of self-rescue while catering to a wider range of anglers.
For instance, owing to age, injury weight or an enclosed compartment may be unsuitable.
That being said, the best inflatable sit-on-top fishing kayaks should have comfortable seating that can be adjusted for greater comfort.
Since the paddler is essential on the boat…not in it, extra-high seating is preferable as it improves the field of sight.
Since these are not used in fast-moving waters safety can be sacrificed at the expense of features. For instance, given they are good for fishing having extra dry storage space is good on such a boat.
Extra storage space should be large enough for baggage and the best should have a number of pockets to help carry important fishing gear.
As this is an inflatable device, anything with Boston valves will be good for fast inflation. A deflation pump is a plus as well. Where the boat is of reasonable size, a good carrying mechanism such as strapping or duffel bag should be included.
Best Canoe Style Fishing Kayak
The best canoe style-fishing kayak more often than not will be hard sided, though there are a few inflatable options.
However, given the canoe style, the best fishing kayak in this category will have a relatively broad seating area that should, where possible, double as a storage space.
Because the paddlers are enclosed in the boat, the seating should be comfortable and adjustable. For long excursions, anything with adjustable leg braces will have a clear advantage.
Overall, a canoe is supposed to be easy to turn and as such, the hull should be designed almost U-shaped for improved tracking.
Canoes are designed to go far, so the oar-docks should be sturdy and where possible include plenty of mounting for other essential fishing gear.
Best Tandem Fishing Kayak
There is not much difference between a tandem kayak and the canoe-style kayak except that the hull should be slimmer to reflect the speed associated with a kayak.
Best Fishing Kayaks to Buy in 2021
1- Classic Accessories Cumberland Float Tube
The Cumberland Float Tube is the best single-seater kayak available on the market based on the features it promises.
The kayak comes with an extra high seat that allows you to stay drier while affording you improved visibility.
The hull is designed in a hydrodynamic shape that provides improved steering and tracking.
However, it will be a little more difficult to turn. The Cumberland Float Tube has several pockets and drinks holders to keep you focused while in the water.
When deflated, the Cumberland Float Tube can be folded into an easy-to-carry backpack with padded shoulder strapping.
It also comes fitted with Boston valves for easy inflation or deflation. The entire package is backed by a 1-year warranty.
- Max weight 250 lb
- 1-year warranty
- Comfortable seating and carrying mechanism
- Repair kit not included
Cumberland Float Tube Verdict
Buying the best fishing kayak can be quite a difficult choice. While the cost varies significantly between models, cheaper and high-quality products such as the Cumberland Float Tube provide much-needed respite.
This vessel designed to seat a single individual. The Cumberland Float Tube is built with a strong body and is relatively easy to inflate and deflate.
It is easy to carry and has many essential safety features.
2- Riot Kayaks Escape 12 Angler Sit-On-Top Flatwater Fishing Kayak
The Riot 12 is definitely the best fishing kayak incorporating the hard-sided design on the market. The kayak is designed perfectly for fishing excursions and has 5 attached fish rod holders which give the user added comfort and convenience.
The vessel also comes with a built-in pilot rudder system that provides for improved navigation. In addition to that, the vessel has a built-in cup holder to provide the user with added convenience.
The seat provided is high and easily customizable to ensure the user is comfortable and has an excellent view.
The vessel also comes fitted with paddle hooks that ensure the user can stop at any time without worrying about bringing the paddles on board.
- Plenty of hooks for paddles and fishing rods
- Comfortable customizable seating
- Pilot rudder system
- Not easy to repair
Riot Kayaks 12 Angler Verdict
Selecting the best fishing kayak is often quite confusing for a beginner. However, for anyone interested in fishing with a good hard-sided sit-on-top kayak this is the best available option.
Like many of the best fishing kayaks, it has comfortable seating and an innovative rudder system for improved navigation.
The 12 Angler kayak is also fitted with many useful hooks that can help hold rods or paddles giving the angler greater convenience.
3- Sea Eagle 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe w/Paddles
The Sea Eagle 370 Pro that seats two comfortably is considered excellent given its National Marine Manufacturers Association certification.
Because of this, the Sea Eagle 370 Pro is considered suitable for Class II white water excursions. It is well-designed and can be inflated to full capacity in just eight minutes.
In addition to the above, the Sea Eagle 370 Pro comes with a self-bailing drain valve to remove excess water while traveling on white water.
It also comes with a set of detachable spray skirts for improved visibility on white water. Though it can bear a 500-pound load, the Sea Eagle 370 Pro is designed with lightweight material and only weighs 26 pounds.
The boat can be folded to fit in a storage bag and comes with cargo space that can carry hunting or camping gear.
The exterior of the Sea Eagle 370 Pro is built with Polykrylar and is strong enough to withstand extensive clawing by a dog. The floor is designed using an inflatable I-Beam that gives it added rigidity and improves the comfort of the ride.
Both seats can be removed and the boat comes with molded kegs to improve tracking. It also comes with bow and stern grab lines for added safety over white waters.
- NMMA certification.
- Self-draining valves.
- Detachable spray skirts and removable seats.
- It lacks rock protection.
Sea Eagle 370 Pro Verdict
While white water can be fun, it is important to be safe. The Sea Eagle 370 is the best inflatable fishing kayak that can safely be used for Class II white water.
It is credibly certified and has draining valves and secure handles to protect against the bumpy ride. It inflates fast and comes with removable seats and detachable spray skirts.
4- Classic Accessories Colorado XTS Pontoon Boat with Swivel Seat
The Colorado XTS pontoon boat is the best fishing kayak that is designed to look and perform like a pontoon boat.
It is well-suited for long fishing trips and boasts some remarkable features like removable gear bags and almost 20 pockets to facilitate storage and easy access.
The seat provided in the Colorado XTS pontoon boat is very comfortable and can be adjusted with ease. The seating also comes with adjustable footrests that will eliminate leg fatigue.
The rod holder can be mounted in six positions on the boat allowing the angler greater range of movement and access to a wide fishing area.
The rod holder is accompanied by a cup holder that can cater for the waiting period before the fish takes the bait.
The Colorado XTS pontoon boat is also reinforced with a steel frame and comes with two 7″ aluminum oars.
- Comfortable seating with leg rests.
- Reinforced frame with two oars.
- Adjustable rod holder.
- Not easy to turn
Colorado XTS Pontoon Boat Verdict
A pontoon boat is an excellent floatation device for fishing in flat water. Fortunately, there are several inflatable vessels made with this design in mind that is suitable for fishing.
The best fishing kayak with this design is the Colorado XTS pontoon boat that has adjustable fishing rod positions, a reinforced frame, comfortable seating, and an option for mounting a motor.
5- Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
The Advanced Elements AE1007-R is one of the best inflatable kayaks on the market owing to its wide range of useful features.
First, the Advanced Elements AE1007-R is designed with an optimum-performance hull. This feature means the hull is thin (v-shaped) in the front and rear, and mainly flat in the middle.
The Advanced Elements AE1007-R can move fast and turn fast. It also has built-in aluminum ribs in the bow and strength that improve its tracking.
In terms of durability, this is an excellent buy with three layers for added puncture protection.
The included detachable seats make it ideal for solo or tandem use. The package offered also includes a suitable duffel bag to carry the vessel and a repair kit to cater for emergencies.
The deck is interchangeable for greater versatility. This fifteen-foot vessel can carry a capacity as high as 550 lb.
- 550lb capacity.
- Detachable seats for solo or tandem use.
- Repair kit.
- Requires compressor for inflation.
Advanced Elements AE1007-R Inflatable Kayak Verdict
Where the best inflatable fishing kayak is concerned, anything that offers a package similar to the Advanced Elements AE1007-R is more than ideal.
The AE1007-R Inflatable Kayak comes with detachable seats for solo and tandem use and an aluminum-reinforced chassis for improved tracking.
6- Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak with Paddles
The Lifetime Sport Fisher kayak is the perfect tandem-fishing kayak for sit-on-top excursions. The vessel is designed to accommodate as many as three people.
The vessel is 10 feet long and is built with a durable high-density polyurethane chassis.
The Lifetime Sport Fisher kayak owes its high degree of stability to the strong chassis. Its hull is designed like a tunnel that increases stability so that an individual could fish standing or seated across the saddle.
It comes with a pair of high and very dry comfortable seats that makes boating with this kayak ideal.
The Lifetime Sport Fisher kayak is sturdy and can support a max weight of as much as 500 pounds. In addition to this, the entire package is enhanced by the 1-year warranty.
As far as fishing comfort goes, the Lifetime Sport Fisher Kayak has four fishing rod holders and a relatively large dry storage compartment.
- Comfortable seats.
- 4 fishing rod holders.
- Includes 2 (2) piece paddles.
- Requires transportation.
Lifetime Sport Fisher Kayak Verdict
Tandem kayaking is perfect for a family outing. The Lifetime Sport Fisher Kayak is the best option for tandem fishing owing to its strong hull and suitable design.
7- Intex Seahawk Inflatable Boat Series
Like the best fishing kayak, a good raft must provide adequate safety for the passengers on board. This raft is fitted with a secure and strong line all around that is useful as a handle for all the passengers.
For improved comfort and rigidity, the floor is built using inflatable I-Beam technology. This makes the Intex Seahawk II rigid all around and comfortable to ride.
The main hull is fitted with Boston valves that make it easy to inflate and deflate. The oarlock fitted on each side is welded and allows for easy rotation of the oars.
The package also comes with two one-sided 54″ oars with strong and light rotating aluminum handles.
In addition to that, the Intex Seahawk II is fitted with two holders for fishing rods and is approved for use by the US Coast Guard.
The Intex Seahawk II comfortably seats three and has two air chambers to provide greater safety to the paddlers. The raft itself is constructed with two heavy-duty layers of PVC inside and a tough mesh layer on the outside.
- Dual air compartments.
- Pump included.
- Two oars included.
- Not suitable for large group (660lb).
Intex Sea Hawk II Verdict
Rafting is risky but fun. The Intex Sea Hawk II is the best raft on the market, owing to the major safety considerations that go into its construction.
The Intex Seahawk II has a durable three-layer body with dual air compartments for greater safety. It is equipped with fast deflation and inflation mechanisms.
Approved by the US Coast Guard, and approved by us.
8- Sun Dolphin Journey 10-Foot Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak
The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS is the perfect fishing kayak for a single user. This best fishing kayak is built using high-density polythene that is both durable and light.
The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS is designed for sitting on top, and has a wide cockpit with adjustable foot braces installed for this purpose.
Because of this, the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS can accommodate people of different heights.
In addition to this, the boat is fitted with a comfortable deluxe seat that can easily be adjusted.
It also has a dry storage hatch that is ideal for supplies.
The hatch comes with additional secure strapping that ensures whatever is stored will not be lost even in rough waters. For optimum performance, the Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS is designed with a hull that is ideal for both tracking and turning.
While it is v-shaped in the front and back, the middle is very flat. The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS also comes with a ready to use has a rod holder for added convenience as well as a two-year warranty.
- Two-year warranty.
- Adjustable seat and foot braces.
- Strong polythene chassis.
- Requires transportation.
Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS Verdict
Finding the best fishing kayak is a task that requires careful consideration. The Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS is a great single passenger kayak that comes with deluxe adjustable seating and foot straps.
The boat has a secured storage hatch for supplies and is protected by a two-year warranty!