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Fishing kayaks have become increasingly popular over the years as they give anglers the ability to paddle down waterways with ease. Throw in the fact that a kayak is cheaper and far easier to transport than a traditional boat, and you’ve got yourself the perfect fishing vessel that can be stored on a rack system in your garage.
More often than not, fishing kayaks have open sit-on-top decks that provide you with ample amounts of storage space and deck space to make casting and reeling a breeze. These kayaks are some of the widest on the market to improve the paddler's balance, and they have generous weight capacities so you can pack on all of your fishing gear without compromising the kayak’s maneuverability.
With all that being said, however, there are also enclosed cockpit fishing kayaks (sit-inside kayaks) for anglers who brave it out and fish even during the winter months. These sit-inside fishing kayaks are narrower and limiting when it comes to storage, but their lower center of gravity and streamlined design makes them faster than sit-on-top varieties.
Fishing kayaks even come with different power options, including pedal systems, standard paddles, and electric motors, so you can customize your kayak to your specific needs. So, if you’re thinking about switching to a fishing kayak, check out the best fishing kayaks for options that cover all budgets.
Fishing kayaks are designed to be stable, comfortable, and safe, which is why they’re some of the widest kayaks on the market. Typically, fishing kayaks will have front and back storage areas fitted with bungee cables or molded in cut outs to fit your tackle boxes, coolers, and other important fishing gear.
You’ll find the seat of a fishing kayak to be adjustable and fully removable to not only accommodate paddlers of all sizes but to also limit obstructions while reeling and casting your line. Along with a seat and storage space, a sit-on-top fishing kayak will also have scupper holes to drain water from the deck, and they may even have built-in fishing rod holders, paddle holders, or attachments for fish finders.
Many fishing kayaks have flat bottom hulls as they deliver primary stability and still offer the angler great maneuverability.
Deciding on your first kayak can be difficult, overwhelming, and somewhat confusing, so we’ve put together an easy-to-follow guide to choosing your first fishing kayak.
Below are some important features to look out for before purchasing.
Generally, hard shell fishing kayaks are made from rotationally molded polyethylene which is incredibly sturdy, durable, and able to withstand bumps and scratches. The higher the density of polyethylene, the better, as they’re stronger and lighter than those with a lower density. Be warned, however, higher density kayaks will cost more, but with proper care, they will last you far longer.
Inflatable fishing kayaks are also an option, and we know what you’re probably thinking, “fishing hooks on an inflatable kayak is a recipe for disaster,” but actually, the PVC material that inflatable fishing kayaks are made from is thick and as durable as most hard shells.
You’ll be happy to know that fishing kayaks come with a considerable weight capacity to accommodate you and all your necessary fishing gear. But, even if you think you’ll be well under the recommended weight limit, it’s best to calculate the entire weight of everything on board and purchase a kayak that has a higher weight capacity than you’d ever need.
It’s important that you never overload your kayak as you’ll not only compromise your safety, but you’ll also find it incredibly difficult to paddle and maneuver your kayak through the water.
If you’re after a fishing kayak with the highest weight capacity possible, then opt for a tandem fishing kayak. Tandem fishing kayaks typically have the highest weight limits, and if you only want to paddle solo, then you can easily remove the front seat.
The longer the kayak, the faster and straighter it will be able to go. But, this isn’t to say that short kayaks should immediately be put into the slow category.
Shorter fishing kayaks offer easier maneuverability and tend to be lighter and easier to transport than their longer kayak cousins. Both variations have their benefits, so you’ll have to decide whether you favor speed with a longer fishing kayak or stability, maneuverability, and easier transportation with a shorter fishing kayak.
Wider kayaks offer increased stability which is favored amongst many fishermen. You don’t want to end up in the water with your catch, after all. The only issue that comes with a wider kayak is the fact that their wider hulls make them slower to paddle through the water.
If you’re a recreational angler, then a wider fishing kayak shouldn’t cause too many issues, but if you’re competing in fishing competitions where speed makes all the difference, then it’s definitely something to think about.
A fishing kayak's stability, width, and features all come with a downfall, and that is the fact that they make fishing kayaks some of the heaviest kayaks on the market.
If you’re a solo paddler who may have issues with transporting your fishing kayak, then an inflatable fishing ‘yak is a great option as most weigh under 50 lbs.
Fishing kayaks are generally kitted out with enough storage options, whether that be bungees, molded cutouts, or waterproof hatches. As you’ll be taking a vast selection of gear out with you, you’ll need to purchase a kayak that can accommodate it all.
Most kayaks come with a rudder or offer a rudder as an option. Rudders aren’t an essential piece to your fishing kayak, but they do improve your kayak’s tracking, so it’s worth investing in one if you have the means.
If you’re purchasing a pedal-powered fishing kayak, then a rudder is essential as it’s what helps steer your kayak in your desired direction. Do your research on rudder designs before purchasing, as there are a few different options out there.
Fishing kayaks are usually loaded with accessories to help make fishing easier. But, these additional accessories can add some weight to your kayak, so you’ll need to decide whether you should opt for a standard and bare kayak model or one with handy, built-in features.
Fishing kayaks are some of the widest kayaks on the market and with additional width comes increased stability. As anglers are casting and reeling in fish, occasionally from a standing position, their kayak needs to be as stable as possible, which is why companies have opted for significantly wide decks.
Fishing kayaks make excellent recreational kayaks as they’re stable, offer a vast amount of storage space, and have large enough weight capacities so that you can add on camping gear, an additional passenger, or even your furry friend.
Most anglers prefer sit-on-top fishing kayak varieties as they’re more stable, offer more storage space for fishing gear, and because they have more room to move around when casting or reeling in their fish.
Fishing kayaks are some of the heaviest kayaks on the market, which makes them slightly more difficult to transport than most other kayaks. With that being said, however, they are able to be placed on kayak roof racks or popped on a trailer that is connected to the back of your vehicle.
If transportation is an issue, then there are inflatable fishing kayak varieties that you can deflate, pack down into a small duffel bag, and place in the trunk of your car.