Best Fishing Kayaks: Definite Guide & In-Depth Fishing Kayak Reviews (2021)

Kayak fishing, an outdoor activity that’s experienced quite a revival in the last few years, is an excellent way to combine the exhilarating aspects of kayaking with the excitement of catching your meal. 

Whether you’ve been fishing for years or only recently dipped your toes into the kayak fishing world for the first time, the chances are that you’re more than ready to get one of the best fishing kayaks

If you’re not sure where to start – the one-size-fits-all strategy doesn’t apply here – I’ll help you make that choice! 

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In A Rush? The Winner After 40 Hours Of Research:

Hobie 2020 Mirage Outback

Hobie 2020 Mirage Outback

Our Rating: ★★★★★

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Why is it better?

  • Stable and spacious fishing platform with EVA deck pads for standing 
  • Comfortable, four-way adjustable, extra-wide Vantage CTW seating system  
  • Mirage Drive 180 hands-free pedal propulsion system
  • Dual-controlled kick-up rudder 
  • Onboard storage space includes two hatches, multiple accessory tracks and mounting points, storage pockets, and rear bungee tie-down cargo area
  • Four molded-in fishing rod holders 
  • Compatible with the Lowrance fishing system and the Mirage Sail Kit  

Anglers Guide to Kayak Fishing: How To Choose A Fishing Kayak?

Man in fishing kayak at sea

Would you appreciate a light and nimble hull, or does the stability of a broader kayak matter more to you? Will you go fishing in small ponds and lakes, open seas – or both? 

Are you ready to paddle all the way, or would you like to switch to pedaling at one point?

Or maybe you cover a large when out on a fishing trip so would prefer a motorized kayak 

Would you prefer a sit-on-top or a sit-inside kayak? What about an inflatable one? 

There are hundreds of kayaks explicitly made for fishing – and you can’t pick the best one following the one-size-fits-all approach. 

Rather, your focus here should be on finding the right combination of size, speed, stability, and fishing-oriented features and accessories that meet your needs. 

Here’s how to do it! 

Types Of Angling Kayaks Explained 

Whether you’re here to choose your first or your third kayak for fishing, one of the fastest ways to narrow down your choices is to think about the type of kayak you want

Despite a wide variety of models, features, and perks available on the market, you can usually split angling kayaks into two distinct categories – sit-on-top kayaks (SOKs) and sit-inside kayaks (SIK)

Most anglers prefer sit-on-top kayaks because they provide extra stability and a bit more room to move around – or even roll over when needed – without the risk of filling the kayak with water. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, sure, but it makes a world of difference when you’re dealing with a big catch. 

They typically feel safer, too – especially for a beginner – because capsizing isn’t that big of a concern. 

Sit-inside kayaks are a much better choice if you plan on taking your fishing to streams and rivers. The added maneuverability, lighter weight, lower center of gravity, and protection from the elements might come in handy in moving waters. 

Also, have you thought about getting an inflatable kayak

I get that they don’t inspire a lot of confidence at first glance – I, myself, used to call them pop-up kayaks – but you’d be pretty amazed by the sturdiness and toughness that they bring to the table. 

The inflatable is the way to go if you want a kayak that’s budget-friendly, space-efficient, easy-to-use, and highly portable. 

I mean, do you know of any hard-shells that can transform from a 20-pound duffel bag into a fully functional kayak in minutes? 

A Word About Construction & Stability 

man fishing in kayak in beautiful landscape in Oregon with mountains and river

You won’t find many surprises or mind-blowing innovations when it comes to the materials used for fishing kayaks. Polyethylene, composite materials, ABS – and, in the case of inflatable kayaks, PVC – are the standard go-to options, much like with any other “regular” recreational kayaks out there. 

My point is that there’s not much to discuss here. 

The kayak’s actual dimensions, on the other hand – and its overall stability – are what matters, especially when we’re talking construction. 

Sure, balance is something that you would generally consider when choosing a kayak. But when the main reason you’re getting one is fishing expeditions, stability pretty much becomes the single most crucial factor to consider. 

You’ll be casting – quite possibly while standing – retrieving gear, leaning over, and fighting fish. You know the drill. 

Fishing demands a lot from your kayak, which is why you need a stable platform to handle all that movement. 

And in that sense, broader hulls are almost always better

A longer and narrower kayak will travel faster – and that’s more than welcome for long paddling expeditions. But when it comes to angling, a wider one will offer improved stability – and, more often than not, better load capacity. 

You’ll have to pick your battles here. Plus, you could improve stability with a set of outriggers

Onboard Storage Space (You’ll Need It)

Recreational fishermen in small kayak.

If you’re relatively new to kayak fishing – or fishing in general – you might underestimate the amount of gear you’ll have to pack for every fishing trip. 

Food, water, fishing rods, spare clothes, fish finders, sunscreen, life jackets, lines, lures, GPS, batteries – and the list goes on. My point is:

When it comes to onboard storage space, more is almost always better

I mean, where else do you plan on keeping all your fishing gear?

So, you must think about the type and amount of storage options you need when you start looking into angling kayaks. Front and rear bungee deck rigging, accessible hatches, waterproof compartments, mesh pockets, tie-downs for accessories; you get the picture. 

Don’t Overlook The Kayak’s Weight Capacity 

It’s easy to get carried away – especially when you come across a kayak for fishing that features tons of onboard storage options. 

However, you still need to note how much weight the kayak can hold, as recommended by the manufacturer. 

The kayak’s maximum load capacity can range anywhere from 200 to 1000 pounds. 

Since we’re dealing with angling kayaks here, which one you’ll get should depend on the amount of gear you typically bring on a fishing trip: 

You need to factor in your weight – and your partner if you’re going tandem kayaking – food and water, camping equipment if you’re going on an overnight trip, and, of course, all your fishing gear. 

Accessories & Extras Will Make Your Fishing Kayak Even Better 

two kayak anglers with trolling motors
Image by Hobie Kayak and Hobie Fishing Pictures (CC BY 2.0)

When you think about accessories, your mind probably jumps straight to those unnecessary bells and whistles that only add to the kayak’s price. 

But in this case, where you’ll likely spend quite some time on your kayak, you’ll appreciate the added convenience and comfort of these little extras – even if they do end up costing you a bit more. 

A kayak that’s outfitted with essential fishing accessories – think rod holders, an anchor system, a removable accessory carrier, a fish finder, a pedal system or trolling motor, and the like – will be a much better option for anglers than a no-frills, stripped-down one. 

If you find a kayak that meets your needs in every other aspect of its construction and performance, the lack of accessories doesn’t necessarily have to be a deal-breaker. 

More often than not, you’ll be able to customize the kayak to your liking – and transform it into a proper fish-catching machine – with aftermarket add-ons. 

It’s also worth pointing out that the fishing kayak market has become super competitive. As a result, there are some well equipped cheap fishing kayaks out there – you can grab a real bargain, if you are willing to do a little bit of research.

While we are on the topic of things that can make kayak fishing better, knowing where the best fishing spots are is essential – it can be the difference between being a fishing hero or going home empty-handed. So make sure you check our free interface map of the best fishing spot near you.

What Color Kayak Is Best For Fishing? 

Man in fishing kayak pedalling down river

For a recreational kayaker, color is mostly a matter of preferences – but anglers might not feel the same about it. There’s an on-going debate about whether or not the kayak’s color matters in the world of fishing kayaks

Some would say that it doesn’t make much of a difference – if any – while others argue that slightly subdued color choices can potentially spook fewer fish. 

If you have some concerns about the fish spotting your kayak, light-colored, natural tones are good options camouflage-wise. 

The color choices become even more critical if you plan on using the kayak for something other than fishing, such as wildlife photography, hunting, and bird watching. A camouflage-colored kayak might lessen the chances of critters picking up on your presence. 

Keep one thing in mind, though: 

A brightly-colored kayak is more visible to both fellow kayakers and rescue teams, which is an advantage in terms of safety. 

What About Pedal Kayaks? 

Most off-the-shelf kayaks rely on paddle power for propulsion – but pedal-driven kayaks are an option, too. 

Although they don’t typically come cheap, pedal kayaks do offer a few notable benefits for anglers: 

  • Using your leg muscles to power your kayak across the water typically requires less effort than paddling. Don’t be too surprised to find that you’re going further and faster with a pedal drive. 
  • If you’re not exactly known for your paddling skills, you’ll appreciate the ease of use of leg-powered pedal systems. 
  • Trying to juggle a fishing rod and a paddle at the same time can be downright frustrating. Don’t underestimate the advantage of being able to put your paddle down and go hands-free whenever you need to focus on fishing. 

There’s no right or wrong choice here – as I explained already, pedals can be quite useful in fishing scenarios – but you should still have a paddle whenever you go out on the water. 

Pedals are nice and all, but for a kayaker, the good, old paddle is an indispensable tool.

On that note, if you’re not much of a paddler, take the time to work on your paddling technique. 

How to Paddle a Fishing Kayak | Sit On Top

The Best Fishing Kayaks Of 2021: Fishing Kayak Reviews & Recommendations 

1. Perception Pescador Pilot 12

Perception Pescador Pilot 12
  • Best Sit-on-Top Fishing Kayak
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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The Pescador Pilot 12 is a kayak designed for long fishing sessions, with stability, comfort, maneuverability, and two different propulsion methods at its core. 

You can rely on the pedal propeller system – Pilot Drive – whenever you want to go hands-free! Plus, it features a one-hand controlled rudder with a 360-degree turning radius. 

The 95-pound kayak itself is a hefty one, especially for a single-person kayak, but considering everything it packs within the polyethylene hull, I’m not complaining. 

You get an ergonomic, lawn-chair-style adjustable seat with zonal mesh for improved breathability, under-seat storage, spacious front and rear open storage with bungee lashing, small dry hatches, integrated accessory rails, four molded-in rod holders, fishfinder consoles, and more – put it this way, you will a have safe place to store any gadget or item gear you wish to bring on the trip.

Better yet, it has a 475-pound capacity to handle it all!

Technical Specs 
  • Sit-on-top one-person hard-shell kayak 
  • Measures 12.5 x 2.8 feet 
  • Weighs 95 pounds 
  • Polyethylene construction 
  • 475-pound weight capacity

Pros

  • Adjustable seat with zonal mesh and ergonomic support 
  • Ample onboard storage space and integrated accessory rails 
  • Four molded-in rod holders
  • Pedal-propelled Pilot Drive system
  • Excellent tracking with 360-degree, one-hand-controlled rudder 

Cons

  • It’s relatively heavy for a single-person kayak 
  • There’s a limited amount of dry storage 
  • The bolts holding the Pedal Drive tend to go loose

If you want a comfortable, maneuverable, feature-rich sit-on-top kayak for fishing with an optional hands-free propeller system, you can’t go wrong with the Perception Pescador Pilot 12!

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2. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak

Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak Check Price on Amazon

If you don’t have that big of a budget to invest in your fishing hobby, don’t think that you’ll be land-locked or stuck with rental boats. There are plenty of budget-friendly angling kayaks out there – and the Lifetime’s Tamarack Angler 100 is one of my favorites. 

The high-density polyethylene hull of this 10-foot flat-bottom kayak weighs a mere 52 pounds, making the Tamarack one of lighter kayaks on my list. The light construction comes with limited 275-pound load capacity, but you can still make it work: 

The kayak comes with front and rear shock cord straps for storage, one top-mounted and two flush-mounted rod holders, and two 6-inch hatches. 

Technical Specs 
  • Sit-on-top one-person hard-shell kayak 
  • Measures 10 x 2.6 feet 
  • Weighs 52 pounds 
  • Polyethylene construction 
  • 275-pound weight capacity

Pros

  • Flat-bottom hull for better stability 
  • Reliable tracking with sharp bow and skeg
  • Lightweight and portable 
  • Two hatches and front and rear shock cord straps 
  • Features three fishing rod holders 

Cons

  • The included seat gets uncomfortable after a few hours 
  • You have to purchase plugs for scupper holes 
  • Somewhat limited weight capacity 
  • Not very fast

The Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 is an excellent choice for anglers on a budget, as it leaves out the unnecessary – and cost-inflating – features without compromising performance! Unquestionably one of the best value 10 ft fishing kayaks available to buy today.

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3. Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak

Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Fishing Kayak
  • Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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If you want an alternative to traditional hard-shell kayaks, either due to the lack of space or a limited budget, the Elkton Outdoors’ Steelhead inflatable kayak is worth considering. 

The solid drop-stitch floor and 1000-denier, layered reinforced PVC construction, with reinforced front and rear plastic cone tips, make this 40-pound kayak surprisingly sturdy on the water. It’s no wonder that it’s rated for Class III rapids

Also, don’t assume that you’ll miss out on the conveniences of hard-shell kayaks: 

The Steelhead features five hard-mounting points for rod holders and other fishing accessories, bow and stern onboard storage, and a large bungee cargo area in the front. 

Additionally, it comes with a 400-pound carrying capacity! 

Technical Specs 
  • Sit-on-top one-person inflatable kayak 
  • Measures 10.8 x 3.3 feet 
  • Weighs 40 pounds 
  • 1000-denier layered PVC construction 
  • 400-pound weight capacity

Pros

  • Rated for Class III rapids 
  • Bow and stern storage and bungee cargo area 
  • Five mounting points for rod holders and accessories 
  • High-back, EVA-padded adjustable seat 
  • Complete kayaking kit included 

Cons

  • The included paddle’s quality isn’t the best 
  • First-time users may find the initial setup confusing 
  • The manual doesn’t explain how to setup hard-mounting points

Portable, dependable, affordable – and designed with anglers in mind – the Elkton Outdoors Steelhead can be an excellent alternative to a hard-shell kayak for fishing!

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4. Hobie 2020 Mirage Outback

Hobie 2020 Mirage Outback
  • Overall Best Fishing Kayak 
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Why is the Hobie Mirage Pro Angler not featured in this review, after-all it is the most popular fishing yak in terms of sales. 

Well I am glad you asked!

The reason behind it being absent is down to price – it’s mind-blowingly expensive – and, there are just more cost effective boats with the Hobie range.  

Like the Mirage Outback –   let me tell all the other reasons why it made it onto the short list ahead of the Pro Angler.

If you don’t feel like compromising speed for the sake of stability, the Hobie Mirage Outback’s 12.8-foot long, 2.9-foot wide polyethylene hull is proof that you can have both. 

Weighing a staggering 103 pounds, it’s far from a light kayak. But it’s a war horse of a fishing kayak – compatible with carrying a kayak angler and their gear into multiple battles.

But once it’s in the water, you start to notice all the features it packs with a straightforward goal of keeping you comfy while you wait for your next big catch. 

Besides the oh-so-comfortable Vantage CTW seat, EVA deck pads for standing, Mirage Drive 180 pedal propulsion system, Lowrance-system compatibility, and dual rudder controls, this beast of a kayak has a 425-pound capacity – and onboard storage to match: 

Two hatches, including a large bow one, four molded-in rod holders, multiple accessory tracks and mounting points, storage pockets, and rear cargo area – and more! 

Technical Specs 
  • Sit-on-top one-person hard-shell kayak 
  • Measures 12.8 x 2.9 feet 
  • Weighs 103 pounds 
  • Polyethylene construction 
  • 425-pound weight capacity

Pros

  • Extra-wide Vantage CTW seat and EVA-padded standing platform 
  • Amazing level of stability, both when moving and when static
  • Excellent level of storage and gear mounts
  • Maximized options for storage and accessory setup  
  • Lowrance system compatibility 
  • Pedal propulsion system and dual rudder controls 

Cons

  • It costs way too much for occasional hobbyists 
  • The 103-pound weight can be an issue in terms of portability
  • The hatches aren’t entirely waterproof

Hobie Mirage Outback is a mean fishing machine and an outstandingly engineered kayak that excels in every area imaginable. It doesn’t get better than this, folks!

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5. Wilderness Systems ATAK 120

Wilderness Systems ATAK 120
  • Best Fishing Kayak for Big Guys / Best Fishing Kayak for Tall Guys
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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A.T.A.K. 120 is Wilderness Systems’ answer to Hobie’s expensive, high-end kayaks – and one that’s purpose-built as the ultimate angling platform. It’s right there in the name: 

“A.T.A.K.” stands for “advanced tactical angling kayak.” 

The 12 feet long polyethylene hull clocks in at 86 pounds, which isn’t exactly lightweight. It’s loaded with features and has a roomy deck, with adjustable foot braces, and a 400-pound capacity to justify the extra weight. It’s easy to see why it wins our awards for best fishing kayak for big guys and best fishing kayak for tall guys.

It features multiple SlideTrax accessory rails throughout, spacious rear cargo area, self-draining bow storage area, stern hatch, utility pod cover, and a removable, modular pod for mounting electronics. 

The fully-adjustable AirPro MAX seat is insanely comfortable – a must for all-day comfort on the water, especially if you’re a big guy – and even has a stand-up assist strap for added safety. 

Technical Specs 
  • Sit-on-top one-person hard-shell kayak 
  • Measures 12.3 x 2.9 feet 
  • Weighs 86 pounds 
  • Polyethylene construction 
  • 400-pound weight capacity

Pros

  • Accessory rails, multiple storage compartments and cargo areas, a modular electronics pod, and stern hatch 
  • AirPro MAX seat provides all-day comfort 
  • Features stand-up assist strap 
  • Exceptional stability, tracking, and speed
  • Compatible with Helix MD motor drive 

Cons

  • It’s a bit heavy for a single-person fishing kayak 
  • Doesn’t come with dedicated rod holders 
  • You have to buy the paddle and rudder separately

A.T.A.K. 120 packs everything the award-winning 140 does – but in a compact, nimble frame. It’s one of the most feature-rich, highly-customizable fishing platforms for big guys!

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6. Hobie Mirage Oasis Tandem Kayak 

Hobie Mirage Oasis Tandem Kayak
  • Best Pedal Tandem Fishing Kayak
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Those among you who know their kayaks – recreational and angling-specific ones – won’t be surprised to see that Hobie appeared more than once in my round-up of best fishing kayaks. 

The Mirage Oasis’ 14.5-foot long rotomolded polyethylene hull is, by no means, a lightweight one – its starting 93-pound weight can go up to 127 pounds when it’s fully rigged. Then again, this is a tandem fishing kayak with a 550-pound capacity – and one that swims in onboard storage options, too: 

It sports three twist-and-seal 8-inch hatches, a large bow hatch, multiple mesh storage pockets, and rear bungee tie-downs. You also get two molded-in rod holders behind the back seat. 

Moreover, the Mirage Oasis comes with a retractable rudder system – and has a dedicated sail mount –   adjustable foot rests to dial in that perfect kayaking position.  The Mirage Oasis is an excellent fishing kayak for any type of water, whether that’s; river, lake or sea kayak fishing.

Technical Specs 
  • Sit-on-top tandem hard-shell kayak 
  • Measures 14.5 x 2.8 feet 
  • Weighs 93 pounds 
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction 
  • 550-pound capacity

Pros

  • Four storage compartments, mesh pockets, and bungee tie-downs 
  • A retractable rudder system and dual steering 
  • Pedal-drive system for hands-free propulsion
  • A reasonable amount of legroom  

Cons

  • It’s a rather expensive kayak for fishing 
  • Only comes with two fishing rod holders 
  • It weighs as much as 127 pounds when fully rigged

Mirage Oasis is an excellent option for anglers looking for a well-made tandem-style fishing kayak. The price tag is a premium one – but it’s worth it!

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7. Old Town Loon 126 Angler Fishing Kayak

Old Town Loon 126 Angler Fishing Kayak
  • Best Sit-In Fishing Kayak
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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Most anglers prefer a sit-on-top kayak for fishing – but some enjoy the traditional design and drier ride of sit-in kayaks. If that sounds like you, give the Old Town Loon 126 a chance. 

Old Town calls it the most advanced sit-inside kayak of its kind. While that sounds a bit pretentious, it’s true that this 12.5-foot, 65-pound kayak packs quite a list of features within its triple-layer polyethylene hull. 

The spacious cockpit – complete with a comfortable seat, easy-grip thigh pads, and foot brace system – and 450-pound weight limit offer lots of benefits for fishers. 

Moreover, it features bow and stern bungee rigging, a click-seal hatch, a removable work deck with a USB port, flush-mount rod holders, and an anchor system – and is equipped with front and rear carrying handles, to make portaging easier.

Pros

  • Spacious cockpit and comfortable, back-supporting seat
  • Flush-mounted rod holders 
  • A removable work deck with an accessory track and USB port 
  • Bungee deck rigging and click-seal hatch 

Cons

  • You will have to purchase a paddle separately 
  • More storage room behind the seat would’ve been nice 
  • The front carry handle comes apart easily

The Old Town Loon 126 offers comfort, versatility, and spaciousness – even with the enclosed cockpit – that anglers would surely appreciate. It’s the best 12 ft fishing kayak of its kind, I’m told!

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8. Vibe Kayaks Shearwater 125

Vibe Kayaks Shearwater 125
  • Best Do-It-All Fishing Kayak
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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Next up is Vibe Kayaks’ Shearwater 125 – and I’ll say it right off the bat:

The Shearwater is a thing of beauty – with practicality incorporated throughout. It’s impressive how they managed to fit so much of the good stuff into a single fishing platform.

The rotomolded polyethylene hull is 12.5 feet long and 35 inches wide; you’re looking at a large boat. But it also comes with a 475-pound load capacity and a plethora of features:

For starters, it has a spacious deck with non-slick padding and a dedicated mount for the stand-up assist strap, allowing for stand-up fishing. Furthermore, it has a four-way adjustable seat, a rudder system, four tackle tray slots, four flush mount rod holders, and horizontal rod storage; I could go on and on.

But the best part’s that it’s compatible with paddle, pedal, and motor propulsion!

The hull alone weighs 82 pounds, which is already relatively heavy – but when Shearwater 125 is fully loaded, it clocks in at a staggering 102 pounds. Weight is certainly something you should think about if you’ll be transporting it alone.

Technical Specs

  • Sit-on-top one-person hard-shell kayak
  • Measures 12.5 x 2.9 feet
  • Weighs 82 pounds
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • 475-pound weight capacity

Pros

  • Compatible with pedal drive and motor propulsion
  • Four-position Vibe Summit seat
  • Non-slick deck padding for standing up
  • A mount for the stand-up assist strap
  • Rudder system
  • Tackle tray slots and flush mount rod holders

Cons

  • It weighs slightly over 100 pounds when fully loaded
  • The seat’s clips tend to come loose
  • It could benefit from more dry storage options

Vibe Kayaks’ Shearwater 125 is the brand’s take on the ultimate, do-it-all kayak for fishing that won’t force anglers to choose one feature over the other. You get everything in one stable fishing platform.

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9. BKC PK12 Single Fishing Kayak with Trolling Motor

BKC PK12 Single Fishing Kayak with Trolling Motor
  • Best Fishing Kayak With A Trolling Motor
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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I’ve had the pleasure of testing several models made by Brooklyn Kayak Company before, and now it’s time for another one – the BKC PK12.

This 12-footer features a slightly narrower, 32.75-inch beam, which gives it a pretty sleek look – well, for a fishing kayak, anyway – and allows the hull to slice through the water. It’s a bit lighter than the Shearwater 125, too, clocking in at 78 pounds.

The load capacity remains relatively similar at 460 pounds; you won’t be sacrificing much in that department. On that note, it features two sealed hatches and bungee rigging in the back.

The feature that makes BKC PK12 stand out is that it comes equipped with a trolling motor. So, if you were hoping to ditch the paddle in favor of effortless, motor-powered cruising, this one is worth considering.

It also features two built-in rod holders – but I wish it had more. As for the adjustable lawn-chair-style seat, it’s an excellent choice – even on longer trips.

Technical Specs

  • Sit-on-top one-person hard-shell kayak
  • Measures 12 x 2.7 feet
  • Weighs 78 pounds
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • 460-pound weight capacity

Pros

  • Equipped with a trolling motor
  • An adjustable lawn-chair-style seat  
  • Dual water-tight hatches and open storage with bungee rigging
  • Two built-in rod holders  
  • Hand-controlled rudder
  • An anchor trolley

Cons

  • It would be great if it had one or two additional rod holders
  • It doesn’t come with a dedicated transducer mount

Brooklyn Kayak Company makes outstanding kayaks for anglers and hunters alike; the PK12 is the only proof you’ll need. And if you want a fishing kayak with a trolling motor, this one’s your best bet.

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10. Riot Kayaks Escape 12

Riot Kayaks Escape 12
  • Best Kayak For Short Fishing Trips
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Riot Kayaks’ Escape 12 Angler is a 12-foot long sit-on-top ‘yak designed with anglers in mind, as the name implies. And it boasts everything you’d expect from a kayak that contains the word “Angler” in its name:

Five rod holders, including one swivel and four flush-mount ones, a built-in Pilot rudder system, an anchor trolley system, an integrated console with a molded-in cup holder; you get the picture. As for onboard storage, you’re looking at a rear tankwell with bungee rigging and an oval hatch in the front.

It does have a significantly lower load capacity compared to most other fishing kayaks you’ll see today – 300 pounds, to be exact. That may not be a deal-breaker for everyone, but I’m not sure it would work for bigger guys like me.

The good news is that it’s a bit lighter than the two kayaks I showed you previously, weighing “only” 68 pounds. That’s pretty reasonable for a fishing kayak.

Technical Specs

  • Sit-on-top one-person hard-shell kayak
  • Measures 12 x 2.5 feet
  • Weighs 68.3 pounds
  • Rotomolded polyethylene construction
  • 300-pound weight capacity

Pros

  • Five rod holders, including a swivel one
  • Built-in Pilot rudder system
  • Anchor trolley system compatibility
  • An oval hatch and rear tankwell with bungee rigging
  • An integrated console with a molded-in cup holder

Cons

  • The 300-pound weight capacity won’t work for bigger paddlers
  • It doesn’t track very well when the rudder’s not deployed
  • The seat isn’t comfortable enough for longer trips

Riot Kayaks’ Escape 12 Angler wouldn’t be my first pick for extended fishing trips – but it has its strong suits, nonetheless. I’d happily recommend it for smaller paddlers and casual afternoons on the water.

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11. Native Watercraft Slayer 12.5 Propel

Native Watercraft Slayer 12.5 Propel MAX 2020
  • Best Kayak For Freshwater And Offshore Fishing
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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Last but not least, I’d like to talk about this absolute beast of a fishing kayak – Native Watercraft Slayer 12.5 Propel MAX. And yes, this boat certainly lives up to its name!

This 12.5-foot sit-on-top kayak features a 34-inch beam, an extended rudder for better tracking, horizontal rod storage, and adjustable, elevated seating. Plus, it’s electronics-ready, featuring a transducer recess and a dedicated hatch for battery storage.

Speaking of storage, the kayak’s 500-pound capacity, open storage area with bungee rigging, a waterproof hatch, and tackle storage at the sides are more than enough for your fishing trips.

As for propulsion, it comes with the Propel pedal drive system, but it also features motor mounts on the bow and stern.

Its fitted weight is 95 pounds – acceptable for a fishing kayak, but heavy, nonetheless. But fully rigged, the Slayer 12.5 Propel MAX weighs a mind-blowing 125 pounds! It’s one of the heaviest kayaks I’ve seen to date.

Oh, and it might not be for everyone’s budget – even though I’d say that it’s worth every penny.

Technical Specs

  • Sit-on-top one-person hard-shell kayak
  • Measures 12.5 x 2.8 feet
  • Weighs 95 pounds
  • Polyethylene construction
  • 500-pound weight capacity

Pros

  • Fitted with the Propel pedal drive system
  • Bow and stern motor mounts
  • Extended rudder for better tracking
  • Electronics-ready with a battery hatch and transducer recess
  • Suitable for stand-up fishing

Cons

  • It weighs a massive 125 pounds when fully rigged
  • It won’t be easy to transport single-handedly
  • Not the most budget-friendly fishing kayak you could get

The Slayer 12.5 Propel MAX is the new-and-improved version of Native Watercraft’s most popular kayak. It might be heavy and pricey, but you’re getting an absolute beast of a fishing kayak.

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Final Thoughts & Recommendations – What Is the Best Fishing Kayak?

Lowrance HDS 9 and GoPro rigged Hobie Pro Angler 12
Image by Hobie Kayak and Hobie Fishing Pictures (CC BY 2.0)

We all agree that I have reviewed the top fishing kayaks available on the market today, and believe me when I say they are all fantastic! But which is the best?  

That’s a tough question.

I started this article by saying that you can’t go choosing the best fishing kayaks following the one-size-fits-all approach. 

So how can I highlight the Hobie 2020 Mirage Outback as the best kayak for fishing, then? 

Easy: 

This marvelous piece of engineering packs everything – and I do mean everything – kayak anglers might need when heading out on the water. 

It boasts an ultra-comfortable seat, a roomy deck and stable standing platform, a combination of fishing-specific features that would make your head spin, and a load capacity of 425 pounds – with plenty of onboard storage options to boot. 

It’s not that the other fishing kayaks don’t have things going for them: 

For example, Lifetime Tamarack is the budget-conscious angler’s dream, and the Steelhead rules the inflatable market.  

But even in direct comparison to these advantages, the Mirage Outback still stands out as the lean, mean, fishing machine!