The Best Fishing Kayak Buying Guide: Top 10 Picks For All Budgets

written by local expert Jane Elmets

Jane always knew she wasn't destined for a desk job... She has travelled all over the world and is passionate about noodles, sloths and her hiking boots! When she isn't busy adventuring around the world, you can find her reviewing travel gear and dishing out travel tips to all the places she's visited.

If you’re looking for the best fishing kayaks out there, you’re in the right place. In this article, I break down the top 10 fishing kayaks for all budgets, allowing you to find the perfect boat for your next water-filled adventure.

Fishing from a kayak can be an amazing experience on almost any body of water, but the type of vessel you choose will greatly impact your trip.

Not only do you want a kayak that’s especially designed for fishing, but you’ll want one that’s able to hold all your gear, keep you organized, and most of all, comfortable for long days out on the water.

Hoping to check all these boxes? Keep reading for our top picks for the best fishing kayaks, and some key considerations to keep in mind before purchasing one. 

Quick Answer: Best Fishing Kayak

NameWeightLengthWidthMax CapacityPriceRead Reviews
Pelican Sentinel 100x44 lbs9' 6"30"275 lbs$View on Amazon
Aquaglide Chinook 100 Inflatable23 lbs10'36"400 lbs$View on Amazon
View on REI
Lifetime Tamarack Angler54 lbs10'31"275 lbs$View on Amazon
Vibe Yellowfin 12065 lbs12'33"400 lbs$$View on Amazon
Pelican 100xp Angler50 lbs10'30.5"325 lbs$$View on Amazon
Perception Pescador Pro 1257 lbs12'32.5"375 lbs$$View on Amazon
Vibe Sea Ghost 11062 lbs11'33"425 lbs$$View on Amazon
Perception Pescador Pilot 1285 lbs12'33.75"475 lbs$$$View on Amazon
BKC TK122U Tandem74 lbs12' 8"34"770 lbs$$$View on Amazon
Wilderness Systems ATAK 12086 lbs12' 3"35"400 lbs$$$View on Amazon

Why You Need a Fishing Kayak

While you may think you can hop in any boat and set off to catch some fish, there are certain qualities that set fishing kayaks apart from regular vessels. 

These kayaks were specially designed with fishing in mind, allowing the paddler to get in and out of the boat easily, with increased stability, accessory compatibility, and plenty of storage to bring home your prized catches, thanks to the sit-on-top design. 

If you’re an avid fisher (or hope to be one), you need a fishing kayak. Not only are they less expensive than larger boats, but fishing kayaks are easy to transport with your own car, simple to store and a practical option for different bodies of water. 

You can even find different types of fishing kayaks, like inflatable and tandem models to suit your unique needs. 

No matter what kind of fish you’re hoping to catch, it’s worth investing in the best fishing kayak to take on adventures, wherever you go. 

A woman fishing on the lake surrounded by trees

Best Fishing Kayaks Under $500

If you’re looking for a boat on a budget, you’ll be able to find some pretty decent fishing kayaks for under $500. Check out these picks for a dependable option without shelling out tons. 

Pelican Sentinel 100x

Weight: 44 lbs| Length: 9′ 6″ | Width: 30″ | Max Capacity: 275 lbs

Features: Adjustable footrests | Molded carrying handles | Drain plug | 2 accessory eyelets and 2 paddle holders

As far as best fishing kayaks under $500 go, the Pelican Sentinel 100x is a sure bet. Pelican is renowned for making quality boats, and this kayak is no exception.

This sit-on-top model is fairly lightweight at 44lbs while maintaining stability. You’ll have no problem moving around the boat and casting out your lines from this bad boy. 

Made for slow moving waters, this is the ideal kayak for a chill day out on the river or lake. And with an abundance of storage space, you’ll have no issues keeping a large stock of cold ones… and fish.

The Pelican Sentinel has all the extra bells and whistles you could ask for in a fishing kayak like adjustable footrests, accessory eyelets, 2 rod tie-downs, flush mount holders and even a smartphone holder for selfies out on the water. Seriously, this boat has it all!

Aquaglide Chinook 100 Inflatable

Weight: 23 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 36″ | Max Capacity: 400 lbs

Features: 600-denier ripstop polyester shell | Carry bag | Removable floor | 2 rod holders & seat storage pocket

If you’re hoping to go the inflatable route with your fishing kayak, this is one of the best out there for a budget price. It’s a bit roomier than traditional single-person kayaks, with space for a kiddo or a pup on your adventures.

You won’t have to spend hours getting this boat in the water – the simple set up allows you to just inflate and go. And since it packs down into a travel bag, you’ll be able to spare yourself the hassle of tying a kayak to your roof and unloading it like you would with a traditional hardshell model.

This boat was made for fishermen in mind, decked out with 2 rod holders, a seat storage pocket to keep gear organized, and hook-and-loop paddle holders so you can get to work without worrying about your paddle floating away.

One concern about inflatable kayaks is their durability, but Aquaglide gets top marks. The HexShell polyester is puncture and UV resistant, and the removable floor reinforces the vessel and makes for easy cleaning. 

Lifetime Tamarack Angler

Weight: 54 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 31″ | Max Capacity: 275 lbs

Features: UV-protected high-density polyethylene | Multiple footrest positions | Two flush mount rod holders | Two 6″ storage compartments

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler is a dependable budget option that definitely makes the cut as one of the best fishing kayaks under $500. Made from high-density polyethylene, this kayak is particularly stable and does the job for fishers who don’t want to break the bank.

You’ll find plenty of legroom in this kayak, along with enough storage space for fishing gear and more. There are even two sealable storage compartments for valuables and keeping your equipment organized.

Other notable features of the Lifetime Tamarack are the 2 dual mount and one top mount fishing rod holders, an adjustable seat back, and sturdy design. This boat will do particularly well on streams and rivers, but can easily handle a windy day on a lake thanks to its straight tracking and durability. 

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Best Fishing Kayaks Under $1000

If you’re willing to spend between $500 and $1000 for a fishing kayak, you’ll find a large selection to choose from. Here’s a breakdown of some of the best fishing kayaks under $1000 to take on any kind of adventure. 

Vibe Yellowfin 120

Weight: 65 lbs | Length: 12′ | Width: 33″ | Max Capacity: 400 lbs

Features: Rudder ready | Fish finder mount | 10 accessory gear tracks | Premium seat | Lots of storage space

This is one of the top fishing kayaks under $1000. It’s built for performance, speed, and stability, with plenty of comforts to ensure ache-free days out on the water.

The Vibe Yellowfin 120 comes complete with a speed hull design that’s prime for accurate tracking and quick maneuvering through rivers, streams or lakes. On top of that, it has a durable open deck that will keep you steady and withstand contact with rocks, strong currents, and other obstacles that may cross your path.

In terms of comfort, this fishing kayak goes above and beyond with a dual position, ventilated seat, accompanied with adjustable foot braces allowing you to tailor the kayak to your unique fit. When in position, you’ll have easy access to all of your gear tracks, paddle parks, and cup holder for an icy beverage.

The last word about the Vibe Yellowfin 120 is that it was really built with convenience in mind. Aside from everything else mentioned, this kayak also has waterproof storage, 2 tackle tray holders, and an abundance of extra room to stash coolers or gear. 

Pelican 100xp Angler

Weight: 50 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 30.5″ | Max Capacity: 325 lbs

Features: Two retractable carrying handles | Multi-Chine flat bottom hull | ERGOFIT G2 seating system | Adjustable footrests and secure foot bracing

A fairly lightweight option is the Pelican 100xp Angler, which is a choice pick if you’re looking for a sturdy number that will last you for years to come. It’ll work well for day and overnight trips with a quick lock hatch in the front, day hatch with a storage bag, and a storage platform in the back for all of your camping gear.

You won’t have to worry about a sore back while paddling in this boat as it has an adjustable backrest cushion, padded seat cushion and even adjustable footrests with secure foot bracing. Finding the perfect position has never been easier!

If you’re wondering why this kayak is a top pick for fishers, you may want to check out the swivel rod holder, two flush mount rod holders, and the paddle tie-down. Coupled with the bottle holder and accessory eyelets, you won’t be longing for anything when you’re out on the water. Not to mention it was designed for maximum stability and unmatched tracking, making it one of the best choices for beginner and advanced paddlers.

Perception Pescador Pro 12

Weight: 57 lbs | Length: 12′ | Width: 32.5″ | Max Capacity: 375 lbs

Features: Removable Pro Seat with breathable mesh fabric | Quick-adjust footrests | Large front and rear open storage |  Upright Rod Storage

If you’re really torn between the best fishing kayaks, the Perception Pescador Pro 12 is an epic choice for all levels. With leak-proof construction, built in buoyancy, and maximum stability, you really can’t go wrong with this boat.

You’re likely to find this durable kayak rather comfortable with a removable lawnchair style seat. Crafted from breathable mesh, the seat can be lowered into paddling position or raised for the perfect cast. It’s supposed to be one of the most comfortable on the market! 

At 12 feet the Pescador Pro is pretty easy to maneuver and has a plethora of nifty features like gear tracks, molded-in rod holders, and even a fish-finder console. It’s also designed to have tons of storage space for coolers and any other gear you may be toting along. 

Vibe Sea Ghost 110

Weight: 62 lbs | Length: 11′ | Width: 33″ | Max Capacity: 425 lbs

Features: Pre-installed toe controlled rudder system | Watertight dual-hinged console |Fish finder mount | 6 gear tracks

The Vibe Sea Ghost 110 is certainly one of the best fishing kayaks under $1000 and potentially one of the best overall. It’s an outstanding pick for a solo kayaker who’s hoping to cover some serious distance while remaining stable with all their gear.

One aspect that sets this fishing kayak apart from the rest is the increased control due to the toe-controlled rudder system. Not only does it help guide the boat, but it will save you tons of energy on long journeys.

This is definitely an adventure kayak with plenty of storage and a seat that will keep you comfortable on days that last from sunrise to sunset. It’s also prepared to handle all of your fishing gear with two flush-mount rod holders and 4 integrated gear tracks for whatever custom accessories you’re bringing to the table. 

For more fishing kayaks under $1000, click here!

Best Fishing Kayaks Under $2000

Kayaks are an investment and if you don’t mind spending a little more, you’re able to find some insanely cool boats that will last you for years and years to come.

Case and point: these picks for best kayaks under 2000!

Perception Pescador Pilot 12

Weight: 85 lbs | Length: 12′ | Width: 33.75″ | Max Capacity: 475 lb

Features: Pedal-driven performance | Leak-proof one-piece construction with built-in buoyancy | Lawn chair style mesh seat | Pilot drive pedal system

This is a fishing kayak that’s definitely worth the splurge. Made for anyone who would rather have a more hands-free experience, the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 is pedal-driven! That’s right people, you can paddle this boat with your feet while your hands stay free to catch even more fish.

If you’re wondering how you steer the thing, this kayak has a one-handed rudder complete with a 360 degree turning radius so you can coast through bodies of water as your hands cast, reel and catch with ease.

Since you’ll likely be spending tons of time in this laid back ‘yak, it’s made for increased comfort with a breathable lawn chair seat that can adjust to two heights for the perfect fit. Additionally, each piece of your fishing gear will find its place with 4 rod holders, fishfinder consoles, and integrated accessory rails. 

This is certainly worth the spend if you’re looking for one of the best fishing kayaks under $2000.

BKC TK122U Tandem

Weight: 74 lbs | Length: 12′ 8″ | Width: 34″ | Max Capacity: 770 lbs

Features: 2 ergonomic aluminum frame seats | High-density polyethylene material | Water resistant storage

Hoping to hit the water with your partner in tow? This tandem fishing kayak can accommodate up to three people (though two, more comfortably). It’s a top notch option for small families or couples who are looking to paddle around with one another.

Especially made for stability, this super durable kayak can be used on lakes, rivers or oceans, as it’s able to handle quick moving currents and light waves.

With a maximum weight capacity of 770 pounds and boasting plenty of storage space for weekend gear and coolers, this fishing kayak even has watertight hatches that you can stash valuables in to keep them out of harm’s way.

And fishing truly has never been easier as there are 4 built-in rod holders, paddle parks, and fully adjustable aluminum seats sporting an upright, ergonomic design for all-day comfort. 

Wilderness Systems ATAK 120

Weight: 86 lbs | Length: 12′ 3″ | Width: 35″ | Max Capacity: 400 lbs

Features: Advanced tactical angling kayak | Rudder-ready design | AirPro MAX seat | Flex Pod OS removable console

We’d be remiss not to mention a Wilderness Systems kayak on this list as they truly do make some of the best fishing kayaks on the market. The ATAK 120 is no exception and is an excellent option if you’re looking for a long term adventure vessel.

ATAK stands for ‘advanced tactical angling kayak’ which essentially means that this boat is top of the line when it comes to maneuverability and stability. You’ll have no problem standing up here! It also has an infinitely customizable platform which is well regarded in the kayak world for being handy for advanced and organized fishermen.

Wilderness Systems utilizes a unique suspension-style seat in this kayak which is unmatched in terms of performance and comfort. Not only will you be able to adjust the seat’s height, but recilne it as well to really relax. Paired with padded, adjustable footrests you really can’t go wrong here.

Considerations for Buying a Fishing Kayak

When it comes to buying a fishing kayak, these are the considerations you should have at the forefront of your mind to ensure the boat is right for you.


As you can see from the list of best fishing kayaks above, there are tons of different types of boats, allowing you to find exactly what you’re looking for.

But if you’re still unsure about what type of fishing kayak is right for you, here’s a brief rundown of the two main kinds you’ll come across on your hunt:

Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks tend to be fisher’s preference when it comes to casting out of a kayak. Rather than being confined to a cockpit, your legs have more freedom, giving you mobility in the boat and allowing you to hop in and out with ease. 

And because of their sturdy, self-bailing design, people with decent balance are even able to stand up in sit-on-top kayaks to get the perfect cast.

This type of fishing kayak also has increased storage space as the top of the boat is open, which means quick access to fishing tackle, beers, and other important accessories. 

A woman fishing on a river

Sit-In Kayak

The alternative to a sit-on-top model is a sit-in kayak, which is less common for fishing but decent all the same. 

What defines this type of vessel is the enclosed cockpit, with your legs below the deck of the kayak. This means you’re less likely to get wet while paddling around (optimal in colder conditions), but more likely to struggle getting in and out of the boat and storing all of your gear. 

Sit-in kayaks are generally more stable due to the center of gravity being lower. This means you can maneuver slightly better and paddle a bit quicker, aka the prime reasons why this type of kayak is the preference for recreational use rather than fishing. 

Overall, the type of kayak you choose greatly depends on where you’ll be using it most and for what. If you want a fishing kayak that can double as a kick-ass recreational vessel, you may consider going for the sit-in model. 

But if you’re serious about comfort, freedom and stability on the water, and you’ll mostly be using the boat for fishing, a sit-on-top kayak will probably serve you best. 

Hardshell vs Inflatable Fishing Kayaks

When it comes to the type of fishing kayak you choose, you’ll also have the choice between inflatable fishing kayaks and traditional hardshell models.

Hardshell fishing kayaks are best for those seeking optimal durability, especially if you expect to bump up against rocks a fair amount. 

On the other hand, inflatable kayaks are a really practical option for those who don’t want to worry about having to strap a kayak to the top of their car every time they want to take it out for a spin. Inflatables are able to pack away, transport easily and set up quickly. 


Length is a key determining factor when it comes to speed and maneuverability in a fishing kayak. The longer the kayak, the faster they tend to be. You can cover quite a bit of ground (or water, in this case) in a kayak that’s 12+ feet on big, open bodies of water.

However, if you plan on fishing in tighter spaces like rivers, creeks or streams, you may want to opt for a shorter kayak (less than 11 feet) which doesn’t go as fast, but is easier to handle when it comes to making quick turns or shifting course to track a catch. 


If you’re worried about the stability of your kayak, you should pay special attention to the width of your prospective boat. While there’s more that goes into kayak stability than just width, this is definitely a main factor that will keep your ‘yak from wobbling about. 

As a fisher, stability is a must in any vessel, so consider boats with a greater width to keep from toppling overboard.

That being said, the trade off with wider boats is decreased maneuverability and a slower pace. So if you want to travel greater distances with your kayak rather than have a laid back day reeling in catches on the water, you may want to choose a boat that’s more narrow and slightly less stable as a consequence. 


Don’t underestimate the weight of your kayak… Think about it, how are you going to transport it, and get it in and out of the water if you can’t even lift the thing? 

Depending on how comfortable you are with lifting and loading heavy objects, you may want to spring for a lightweight or inflatable kayak that’s collapsible and doesn’t weigh a ton.

But if you’re going to hit the water with others and will always have a helping hand nearby, it pays to have a kayak that’s slightly heavier to increase stability and durability. 

Storage Capacity

If you’re going to take your kayak on overnight trips or just plan to catch a ton of fish, storage capacity should be at the forefront of your mind. You need to ensure you’ll be able to fit all of your gear, along with a fishing cooler, plenty of water and any supplies you may need while you’re away.

Lots of fishing kayaks will have a tie down area in the back with bungee cords, but keep your eye out for boats with a front compartment and lockable center hatch in addition to rear storage. 

Maximum Weight Capacity

Hand in hand with storage capacity, you want to double check the maximum weight capacity of any given fishing kayak before purchasing. This will determine how much you can pack onto your boat, along with how much you can haul back in terms of fish weight.

With that in mind, it’s important not to push it with maximum weight capacity. Don’t load all the way up to the limit, but rather leave a little bit of leeway while packing. Who knows what you’ll pick up on your adventures!

Accessory Compatibility

One of the biggest perks of fishing kayaks is that they’re built to be compatible with a whole host of accessories. From rods to fish finders to drink holders and more, many fishing kayaks come with built in ports, along with mounts for you to hook up your gear and enjoy a stress free day out on the water. 

woman with fishing gear, kayaking on a lake

Fishing Kayak FAQs

If you have some more questions when it comes to buying the best fishing kayak, check out these FAQs for more information.

What is the best beginner kayak?

If you’re looking for a trusty beginner model, you’ll probably do well with the Pelican Sentinel 100x, which is a dependable model that provides lots of stability while you get used to paddling around. 

Which kayak is most stable?

There’s a lot that goes into making a kayak stable, including your experience as a paddler. But if stability is a concern, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler is a safe bet thanks to its stable flat bottom and stable chine rails. 

What is the best inflatable fishing kayak?

Inflatable fishing kayaks tend to be a whole other ballpark, which is why there aren’t many on this list. But luckily you can read our entire round up of 10 best inflatable fishing kayaks for all of your adventures!

Caring For Your Fishing Kayak

There are a few main things to remember when it comes to caring for your kayak.

The first is that the sun is the enemy. It’s best to get a kayak that has some degree of UV protection, and if it doesn’t, you can always buy a spray to coat the boat with. 

That being said, when it comes to caring for your kayak, it’s of the utmost importance that you store it away from the sun’s harmful rays and somewhere cool and dry to keep it in the best condition.

Another best practice when it comes to caring for your kayak is to rinse it down after use. This is especially true if you’ve been paddling in salt water as this can really damage the boat if left on for an extended period of time.

The final tip I have for caring for your fishing kayak is to store it on racks rather than hanging it. This will allow the kayak to retain its original shape and prevent warping. 

If you’re storing it on the ground, it’s best to get racks (for the floor) and mount the kayak all the same. You should also cover it to prevent any damage. 

Hopefully this article brought you one step closer to your dream fishing kayak! As you can see, there are options for all sorts of budgets, allowing you to find a boat that works best for you and your wallet. 

Looking for more kayak advice? Check out these guides:

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