Best Beginner Fishing Kayak: Top 10 Picks for 2021

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Are you on the hunt for the best beginner fishing kayak? In this article, I break down the top 10 options for a starter fishing kayak, as well as key considerations to keep in mind before making your purchase.

Buying your first fishing kayak doesn’t have to be an intimidating experience so long as you know what to look for. It’s all about finding a model that will keep you stable out on the water, with enough flexibility for you to move around comfortably to get your optimal cast, and space to store your catches. 

Keep reading to discover the best beginner fishing kayak options and what to think about before buying one!

Quick Answer: Best Beginner Fishing Kayaks

Name
Image
Weight
Length
Width
Max Capacity
Price
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Pelican Basscreek 100xp50 lbs10’30.5”325 lbs$$
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 10052 lbs10’31”275 lbs$
Perception Pescador Pro 1257 lbs12’32.5”375 lbs$$$
Sun Dolphin Journey44 lbs10’30”250 lbs$$
Sevylor Coleman Colorado33 lbs10’ 7”36.5”470 lbs$
Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak40 lbs10’ 10”39.5”400 lbs$$
Wilderness Systems Tarpon 12063 lbs12’ 3”31”350 lbs$$
Vibe Yellowfin 12065 lbs12'33"400 lbs$$$
BOTE Lono Aero Inflatable Kayak48 lbs12’ 6”35.5”400 lbs$$$
Wilderness Systems Radar 11585 lbs11' 6"34.5"450 lbs$$$$

Why You Need a Fishing Kayak

When it comes to fishing from a kayak, you really do need a devoted fishing kayak to make the most of your experience. While fishing is possible using a traditional kayak, you’ll find it immensely easier and more convenient to use a fishing kayak while out on the water.

This is because fishing kayaks tend to be sit-on-top models. This makes it much easier to get in and out of the boat, and makes it possible to stand up on the water to cast out thanks to the open deck space. 

The open deck also allows paddlers to store rods, a cooler and the rest of your fishing gear in a way that’s next to impossible in a more restricted, traditional, sit-inside kayak. 

For these reasons, it’s essential to pick a fishing kayak (even as a beginner) to maximize your time and comfort while paddling along. 

two fisherwoman on inflatable kayak

Top 10 Fishing Kayaks for Beginners

To help you find the perfect first fishing kayak, here’s a roundup of our top ten picks to make your first day on the water a breeze. 

Pelican Basscreek 100xp

Weight: 50 lbs  | Length: 10’ | Width: 30.5” | Max Capacity: 325 lbs

Features: Multi-Chine flat bottom hull | Quick lock & day hatch w/ storage bag | Rod & bottle holders | Accessory eyelets | Retractable carry handles

As far as beginner fishing kayaks go, the Pelican Basscreek 100xp will probably be your new best friend. This sit-on-top model is well loved in the kayaking community and a great option to learn on as it will last you for years down the line.

You won’t have any trouble fishing from this boat as it’s decked out with swivel and flush mount rod holders, paddle tie downs, and plenty of storage for all of your gear and a cooler.

What’s more, the ERGOFIT G2 padded seat and foot braces are totally adjustable so you can find the optimal position for casting and reeling.

Aside from all that makes this fishing kayak special, it’s a dependable choice for beginners thanks to it’s durable construction, increased stability, and excellent tracking due to the Multi-Chine flat bottom hull design. 

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Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100

Weight: 52 lbs | Length: 10’ | Width: 31” | Max Capacity: 275 lbs

Features: Adjustable padded seat | Multiple footrest positions | Flush & top mount rod holders | Two 6” storage compartments | Front & rear T-handles

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is really cream of the crop when it comes to the best beginner fishing kayaks. While it’s a simple boat, it really has everything a person needs when first starting out fishing from a kayak.

Crafted from UV-protected polyethylene, this fishing kayak is rock solid and will withstand whatever the water has to throw at it. It also gets top marks in stability thanks to the chine rails which will keep you from flailing overboard, even if you’re not an experienced paddler.

Coming complete with the fishing basics, this kayak is outfitted with two flush mount and one top mount fishing rod holders, two 6 inch storage compartments, and bungee storage in the front and rear of the boat.

Other reasons why this is a superb choice for beginners is it’s relatively lightweight at just over 50 pounds, has dual t-handles for transport, and retails for less than $500… What a steal!

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Perception Pescador Pro 12

Weight: 57 lbs | Length: 12’ | Width: 32.5” | Max Capacity: 375 lbs

Features: Removable, adjustable seat | Quick-adjust footrests | Front & rear open storage | Gear tracks & rod holders | Skid plate

If you’re looking for a beginner fishing kayak that does it all, the Perception Pescador Pro 12 is a really safe bet. Not only is it ideal for beginners, but it’s a kayak that will grow with you, so you’ll be able to enjoy it even as you become a more advanced paddler. 

One of the biggest draws to this fishing kayak is its unparalleled comfort. It comes decked out with an adjustable lawn-style chair crafted from mesh that’s even removable to use it on shore! Lower the seat when you want to have a chilled out paddle or raise it for maximum power while casting off.

You’ll also find that this fishing kayak has plenty of room with front and rear open storage to hold your cooler and tackle comfortably, along with dedicated rod holders, fish-finder console and accessory rails.

Best for lakes, ponds, slow moving rivers and calm coastal waters, this really is the best beginner fishing kayak if you’re looking for something comfortable and all inclusive that will last for years and years. 

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Sun Dolphin Journey

Weight: 44 lbs | Length: 10’ | Width: 30” | Max Capacity: 250 lbs

Features: Retractable carry handles | Flush mount & swivel rod holders | Adjustable, padded seat | Portable accessory carrier

Hit the water in style with this fishing kayak designed with beginners in mind. It’s one of the more lightweight options at just 44 pounds but doesn’t skimp on stability or tracking, which are essential for a starter kayak.

This boat is best for lakes and rivers where you can learn to paddle, maneuver and fish from a kayak without the hassle of waves and choppy water. And with the sit-on-top design, you’ll have absolutely no problem getting in and out of the boat. In the event that you capsize, flipping the kayak over is also much easier than a sit-inside model.

The Sun Dolphin Journey really has everything you could wish for in a fishing kayak like two flush mount and a swivel rod holders, paddle holders, an adjustable padded seat and foot braces, as well as large storage compartments for all of your gear.

As you grow as a kayaker, you can even fit a rudder on this boat so that you can track better while moving through the water at a high speed. 

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Sevylor Coleman Colorado

Weight: 33 lbs | Length: 10’ 7” | Width: 36.5” | Max Capacity: 470 lbs

Features: 18-gauge PVC construction | Multiple air chambers | Berkley Quick Set rod holders | Sevylor trolling motor fittings | Boston Valve | Interior mesh storage pockets

This is undeniably one of the best inflatable kayaks for fishing, and what’s more, it’s designed for two people! A tandem boat with lots to offer, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado provides unparalleled value in terms of construction, comfort and extras that come with this kayak. 

First off, this thing is pretty much indestructible with 18-gauge PVC, a 1000D tarpaulin bottom and an 840D nylon cover to round the boat out. If you bump up against rocks or scrape the base, you won’t have to worry about popping the vessel as you’ll simply bounce off.

And if a puncture is something you’re really worried about, you’ll be able to rest assured with the multiple air chambers. 

When it comes to fishing, you’ll find all the conveniences you need like Berkley quick set rod holders, paddle holders, and even motor fittings in case you want to explore greater distances. This inflatable fishing kayak is truly top of the line!

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Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak

Weight: 40 lbs | Length: 10’ 10” | Width: 39.5” | Max Capacity: 400 lbs

Features: Cargo & bungee storage | Rigid dropstitch floor | Hi-Rise EVA adjustable seat | 5 hard mounting points | Front bow spray shield

If you do want to go the inflatable route, the Elkton Steelhead fishing kayak is another knockout option for the solo paddler. This sturdy boat is also easy to handle and set up on your own, making it an attractive option if you don’t want to lug around a hardshell kayak as a beginner. 

Boy, is this baby spacious. With nearly 11 glorious feet all to yourself, you’ll have room for your gear plus whatever you reel in from the water. It’s also especially designed for fishing, so you’ll have no issues finding a place for your rod in the multiple mounts or attaching your own accessories to customize the boat to your preferences. 

This boat was built to be tough and can handle a variety of conditions (up to class III rapids), which is handy as you level up in the kayaking world. Rather than bursting when it comes into contact with something sharp, the Steelhead kayak lives up to its name and bounces right off, no harm done thanks to the 1000D reinforced layered PVC construction and rigid drop stitch floor. 

Also included with the kayak is a lightweight breakdown paddle, a removable skeg and a backpack style travel bag for convenience. And did I mention the high rise, adjustable seat that moves backwards and forwards according to the paddler’s height? 

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Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120

Weight: 63 lbs | Length: 12’ 3” | Width: 31” | Max Capacity: 350 lbs

Features: Phase 3 AirPro seating | Rear tankwell for gear | DryTec removable center storage box | Magnetic bottle holder | Sidetracks accessory rails

While maneuvering with a shorter kayak is significantly easier for beginners, there are a lot of benefits to going with a longer kayak for fishing, even when you’re just starting out.

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 is one of the best beginner fishing kayaks for a lot of reasons. For starters, look at how roomy the thing is! All 12 feet of this kayak make it one of the most spacious on this list with an immense amount of storage both in the front and rear of the vessel, including a removable dry box for valuables. Definitely your next camping companion, especially with a maximum weight capacity of 350 pounds. 

It’s also among the most comfortable kayaks on the market with an exceptionally cushy Phase 3 AirPro seat that will keep you cool even on the warmest summer days. There are also large, padded foot rests so you can find the perfect position for paddling and fishing. 

Besides extras like fishing rod mounts, a magnetic water bottle holder and accessory rails, this sit-on-top kayak is great for learning and has very close attention to detail to ensure nothing important is overlooked. 

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Vibe Yellowfin 120

Weight: 65 lbs | Length: 12’ | Width: 33” | Max Capacity: 400 lbs

Features: Fishing rod holders | 10 accessory gear tracks | Fish finder mount | Waterproof cargo hatch | Rudder ready | Ventilated Hero seat & adjustable foot braces

It’s hard not to vibe with the Vibe Yellowfin 120, especially if you’re looking for the best beginner fishing kayak. This definitely makes the list and is a cut above the rest if you’re seeking a kayak that’s long lasting and has a superior price to value ratio.

Like the other kayaks on this list, the Yellowfin is made specifically for fishing with rod holders, accessory mounts, a molded in console and even a cup holder for staying hydrated on the go. There’s a ton of storage space for coolers, and even dedicated tackle tray holders and waterproof cargo bags. 

But it’s also designed for performance. This kayak is made for speed and stability, which is rare in a single vessel. It’s slip resistant with an open deck which means that if you have decent balance you should be able to stand up on this boat, no problem.

The speed hull is designed for advanced and fast tracking to quickly navigate to the fish, without consuming tons of energy to keep you going all day long in whatever conditions the water throws at you.

Other reasons why this is one of the best beginner fishing kayaks out there are the ventilated Hero seat, adjustable foot braces, paddle parks, and 4 grips to comfortably load and unload the boat. 

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BOTE Lono Aero Inflatable Kayak

Weight: 48 lbs | Length: 12’ 6” | Width: 35.5” | Max Capacity: 400 lbs

Features: Kayak / paddleboard hybrid | 4 chamber construction | Inflatable with travel bag | Kula cooler port | Removable fin

This has to be among the most unique fishing kayaks out there and it’s inflatable to boot! So for a beginner fishing kayak that’s versatile and out of the norm, you should definitely check out the BOTE Lono Aero Inflatable.

Coming in at a whopping 12 and a half feet, this kayak has supreme stability with a 4-chambered construction and removable fin to improve tracking (top qualities in a beginner vessel). Made from military-grade PVC, you won’t have to worry about rips or tears as you paddle through unpredictable waters.

What makes this kayak so attractive is all the features that it comes with. Not only is it prepared for fishing with rod holders and a tackle rack, but it takes things to the next level with a dedicated space for a 5 gallon bucket or a Kula Cooler, in addition to rear and front bungee storage.

And when you don’t feel like kayaking, this boat also converts to a stand up paddle board giving you the best of both worlds if you can’t decide what to get!

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Wilderness Systems Radar 115

Weight: 85 lbs | Length: 11’ 6” | Width: 34.5” | Max Capacity: 450 lbs

Features: Tri-powered capabilities (paddle, power & pedal) | S.M.A.R.T. hull technology | Adjustable AirPro Max seat | Removable flex pod console | Sidetrack accessory rails 

One last option that’s well worth the splurge is this fishing kayak with some amazing capabilities. It’s a great starter boat to learn how to paddle around on, and when you begin to grow as a kayaker, you can even attack the Helix motor or pedal drive for more versatility in travel choices and hands free fishing.

This kayak is special because it’s really top of the line. It was built with impressive hull technology that allows the boat to be extra stable without sacrificing maneuverability, speed or tracking in the water. What’s more, it’s super comfortable with a 3-way adjustable seat for the best fit possible.

Totally ready for fishing, the Wilderness Systems Radar 115 has accessory rails, paddle parks, and generous storage, along with a removable flex pod to stash valuables and smaller gear or mount a fish finder. 

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Considerations for Buying a Beginner Fishing Kayak

When it comes to buying your first fishing kayak, here are some key considerations to keep in mind to ensure you get the best model for your uses.

Man Fishing from a green kayak

Type of Kayak

The first thing to think about is what type of kayak you actually want to get. While the majority of fishing kayaks are sit-on-top (which is what we wholeheartedly recommend for the activity), you’ll find a range of hardshell and inflatable kayaks.

There are pros and cons to each, so let’s take a look at both types of kayaks to help you choose the best kind:

Hardshell Kayaks

Hardshells are your typical kayaks and are generally made from high density polyethylene to make them ultra durable. You won’t have to worry about bumping up against rocks or scraping the bottom of the boat with a hardshell model as they’re built to last.

However, hardshell kayaks are heavier and can be a real pain to transport and store. But they do make for excellent beginner boats as you don’t have to worry about doing any real damage.

Plus, since the body of the boat is rigid, they’re particularly easy to get in and out of.

Inflatable Kayaks

On the other hand, you’ve got your inflatable kayaks which are an equally strong contender when it comes to picking out the best beginner fishing kayak.

Some people may argue that inflatable kayaks are actually the best option for beginners as you won’t have the hassle of transportation or storing them as most fold up to fit in a bag. Inflatable kayaks can also cost less than the traditional hardshell, making them an even more attractive option.

That being said, if you’re going to fish on rougher waters or anticipate bumping up against plenty of obstacles you may want to go for a hardshell model, even though most inflatable kayaks will bounce rather than puncture.

When it comes to choosing the best type of kayak, it all boils down to personal preference. If you don’t have heaps of room to store a kayak at home or don’t want the hassle of tying it to the top of your car every time you want to take it out, an inflatable may just be the best option.

But if you don’t mind these minor inconveniences, a hardshell kayak is likely to last you for many years to come, beginner or not.

Body of Water

The body of water you plan on fishing in most really determines the type of kayak you should purchase. 

Some fishing kayaks are made especially for river use, while others are more versatile and can handle coastal waters. 

It’s worth considering this because while some kayaks can handle waves, others are easily destroyed by saltwater. In addition, some kayaks are simply unsafe when used on the sea because they aren’t built for rough waters, while others were designed specifically for this purpose. 

Ease of Use

As a beginner, having a fishing kayak that’s easy to use should be at the forefront of your mind. If you’ve never kayaked before, forget about all the bells and whistles and choose something that you’ll be able to learn on without tipping over.

In general, shorter kayaks yield greater maneuverability, allowing you to navigate tight spaces (especially while fishing) that may be more challenging on a longer boat.

It’s also worth noting that wider, heavier kayaks tend to be more stable than those that are narrow and lightweight. While there’s more that goes into stability, it’s much easier to learn how to use a kayak with some heft to it rather than one that will blow around with the wind.  

Storage Space

If you’re serious about fishing, you should also be serious about storage space… I mean, how else are you going to bring home all of your spoils? Make sure to grab a boat with enough room for a cooler along with all of your gear.

Storage space should also be a consideration if you plan on taking overnight adventures with your kayak. You’ll want a boat that has enough room for a sleeping bag, tent and anything else you may need for a night or two away. 

Alternatively, if you’re more of a laid-back-day-on-the-water type fisherman, you can forego some of the storage space with a shorter kayak and only bring along the essentials. 

Price

While it may go without saying, one of the main considerations when it comes to buying a beginner fishing kayak is the price.

Since this is a beginner model and something to learn on, you may not want to spend a ton of money on your purchase.

Conversely, a fishing kayak can be a true investment so if you’re serious about paddle fishing, it might be worth the splurge to get a boat with all the bells and whistles that will last you for many years down the line. 

Extras

Finally, one of the biggest perks to purchasing a fishing kayak is that it’s normally tricked out for all the fishing you’re going to do. 

From rod holders to accessory mounts, you should consider the additional features your chosen kayak may have. This can go a long way in making your trip comfortable and easy.

Aside from just fishing extras, take a look at the seat and foot braces to ensure you won’t end your long day on the water with a numb bum. 

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Beginner Fishing Kayak FAQs

If you still have more questions about buying the best beginner fishing kayak, check out these FAQs. 

Colorful kayaks

What’s the best type of kayak for beginners?

Overall, the best type of kayak for beginners greatly depends on your main purpose for it. If you’re looking for a beginner kayak for fishing, a sit-on-top model will definitely serve you best. 

In addition, you may also benefit from purchasing an inflatable kayak, which is way less of a headache to transport and store than a hardshell… a definite perk for beginners hoping to get on the water with ease! 

Is a sit-on-top or sit-in kayak better?

This all boils down to personal preference but in the case of fishing kayaks, a sit-on-top model is definitely the way to go.

Sit-on-top kayaks are super easy to get in and out of, and present less of a hazard if you capsize (it’s simple to right the boat again). 

Sit-on-top kayaks also leave much more room for fishing activities and gear storage. Most kayaks designed in this style have a large rear and front storage, and plenty of space to mount your fishing rods or your own accessories. There’s even room to stand up if you want an optimal cast!

But all of this being said, when it comes to recreational activities, you may benefit from a sit-inside kayak which will keep you dry and warm. 

Is kayaking safe?

For the most part, kayaking is certainly safe. It does help to have the basics down before getting out on the water and practicing on calm surfaces rather than rough surf if you’re a beginner.

But no matter what level kayaker you are, it’s of the utmost importance to wear a proper PFD and have knowledge of emergency procedures just in case.

Travel Must: At the risk of sounding like your parents, make sure you get travel insurance before hitting the road. Trust us, it’s one of those things you don’t want to leave home without. We recommend either World Nomads or Safety Wing, depending on the type of traveler you are.

What are some tips for kayaking?

When it comes to learning how to kayak, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Practice on a still or calm body of water with little to no traffic
  • Choose a sunny day with little to no wind
  • Start with small trips and work your way up to longer tours
  • Take a friend – it helps with morale and if they’re experienced, they can give you some pointers out on the water
  • Pack layers! Conditions can change at any time

There you have it, the top ten best beginner fishing kayaks. While it can be somewhat intimidating to make your first kayak purchase, this guide should provide you with all the information you need to make an informed and educated buy based on your unique situation.

No matter what fishing kayak you end up with, if it’s on this list, it’s likely to be a winner.


Looking for more kayak advice? Check out these guides:

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