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What beats the feeling of being out in the open water on a kayak, breathing in some fresh air, enjoying the sights? Or perhaps racing down a fast stream with no end in sight? Not a whole lot can top those experiences, but there is a way to improve upon them — take your kayak on a fishing trip. If you’re here for the best fishing kayak in 2020, we can tell you right away that it’s Intex Excursion Pro Kayak.

However, even knowing the answer to what we consider to be the best kayak doesn’t mean that you won’t want to browse our other picks. Picking a kayak is a highly personalized experience. You will need to take into account things like durability, stability, amount of space, the budget, and many more. For that reason, we’ve created a guide to help you pick the perfect one for YOU.

A kayak for fishing has to offer the comfort and stability that you need so badly when you’re out on the water. It has to be reliable and it needs to grant you a feeling of security. When it comes to fishing in a kayak, there will be a bunch of other features you’ll want to think about.

Save your time and your money — don’t go in blind. Read our guide to learn all about the best fishing kayaks in 2020.

Our Top Picks

If you already have all the know-how and just want a clear answer to the question of “what is the best fishing kayak in 2020”, we’ve got you covered! Here are our five favorite picks and three runners-up.

Best Fishing Kayak in 2020: Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

Type: Sit-on-top 

Material: laminate PVC and a polyester core

This sit-on-top inflatable kayak features comfortable seats and a number of adjustments that make kayak fishing easy, such as a removable mounting bracket for additional accessories, and plenty of storage space.

Best Tandem Fishing Kayak in 2020: Sevylor Coleman Colorado

Type: Sit-on-top

Material: 18-gauge PVC, 1000D tarpaulin bottom, 840D nylon cover

Like to fish with a friend or a partner? No problem! This inflatable fishing kayak provides great stability and two surprisingly comfy seats for those long fishing trips.

Best Budget Fishing Kayak in 2020: Intex Challenger Kayak

Type: Sit-inside

Material: welded, rugged vinyl, aluminum oar

You don’t need to break into your savings account to get yourself a reliable fishing kayak. This budget option is small and highly maneuverable, which makes it ideal for shorter trips.

Best Pedal Kayak in 2020: Perception Pescador Pilot 12

Type: Sit-on-top

Material: high-density polyethylene

Pedal kayaks rank high amongst all anglers, mostly due to their ability to keep your hands free. This is a specialty-made fishing kayak that’s very easy to maneuver.

Best High-End Fishing Kayak in 2020: Wilderness Systems Radar 115

Type: Sit-on-top

If the budget is of no concern, there’s no better way to enjoy your fishing trip than in a fantastic kayak. Radar 115 ticks all the boxes and then some if you’re a demanding angler.

Runners-up

While these did not make it onto our list of Top 5, they are still solid picks. We talk about them at length below. 

  1. Hobie 2020 Mirage Pro Angler 14
  2. Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
  3. ADVANCED ELEMENTS StraitEdge Kayak

We’ve given you a sample, now it’s time to get down to detail. Proceed to our complete buyer’s guide for the best fishing kayaks.

Kayak vs Fishing Kayak – What Is the Difference?

Before we delve deeper into the topic, we need to establish what the differences are between recreational kayaks and best fishing kayaks. Are there any? Can you just go fishing on your regular kayak without any extra gear?

Of course, you can fish on a traditional kayak if you want to. However, it’s not going to be as optimal as if you were to buy yourself a fishing ‘yak. Here are a couple of reasons why we recommend going down the fishing route as opposed to getting a rec kayak.

  • Convenience – The best fishing kayaks are built to support the needs of fishermen. Instead of trying to adapt your regular kayak, you’ll be able to head straight out if you get a boat suited for your plans.
  • Fishing rods – In a fishing kayak, you will find ample room to store your fishing rod (or several). They usually come with a few rod holders that make it easy for you to fish and store your poles.
  • Storage – Such kayaks are rather roomy and come with enough storage space for all your fishing gear. Tackle, bait, and other necessities will all have their own place in a fishing kayak. A lot of them actually have a built-in tackle box.
  • Stand up – Can you imagine standing up in a recreational kayak? Sure, sometimes, but the stability may be questionable. Some models of kayaks allow you to fish standing up while maintaining a good degree of steadiness.
  • Seating – The best fishing kayaks always feature good seats. On a fishing trip, you’ll often spend hours waiting for a bite, so a comfy place to sit is a real gamechanger.

Is a fishing kayak worth it?

Many fishermen enjoy their best fishing kayaks more so than the recreational ones, at least where fishing is involved. Fishing and kayaking are two different things that mesh very well together, but it’s good to go the extra mile and bring the correct version for that particular activity.

If you’ve previously used a powerboat for fishing, swapping over to a kayak makes a whole lot of sense. Why hurt your monthly budget with expensive payments, insurance premiums, and worst of all, maintenance costs? You can enjoy fishing out in the open water without spending a fortune. To do it efficiently and in style, consider picking up a fishing kayak.

A fishing kayak is a worthy purchase for many reasons, some of which we listed above. At a similar price, you’ll receive a product that was made especially to suit what you’re looking for. However, if you want to make your own mind up, more power to you! Let’s discuss some other factors that come into play when you’re browsing through a selection of kayaks for fishing.

How to choose a kayak?

While we do have a full list of recommendations for you, we don’t want you to get into all the technicalities before you fully know what to look for. It’s easy to be swayed one way or the other and end up with something you don’t like. We don’t want that for you.

To make sure you pick one of the best fishing kayaks to suit your particular needs, make sure that you read our handy write-up of the most important features in a kayak.

Types of kayaks

There are several subtypes of best fishing kayaks, but the biggest difference lies in whether you want to buy a sit-on-top fishing kayak (SOT or SOK) or a sit-inside fishing kayak (SIK). Once that decision is made, you can choose between a pedal-drive kayak, a tandem kayak, an inflatable kayak, or a motorized kayak. All of these can be either inflatable or hard-shell.

There are some differences between the two main types, but they also have a lot of things in common. The general build of a kayak resembles that of any boat, and this doesn’t change based on whether you go with a SOT or a SIK. 

You refer to the top of a kayak as the deck, and the bottom is called the hull. You have the bow in the front and the stern in the back. The deck often has a bunch of deck lines or bungees. At the stern, you will most commonly find grab loops or, in some cases, rudders. Rudders are controlled by foot pedals. They also swivel side-to-side horizontally. 

Whether the kayak is a SOT or a SIK, it should have plenty of foot support. For a sit-on-top kayak, that will come in the form of footwells. The other option is foot pedals, which many people find more convenient and comfortable on longer trips.

What is the biggest difference between a sit-inside and sit-on-top? The answer is simple enough: sit-insides are enclosed, which means that they have a cockpit that you sit in. The cockpit is enclosed by a rim that allows you to attach a spray skirt if you want to. Sit-on-top kayaks, on the other hand, are not enclosed and feature built-in seats on top.

Do you need a sit-on-top kayak or a sit-inside kayak? To make things easier for you, we will discuss them in a little more detail.

Sit-on-top fishing kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks, also referred to as SOT or SOK, are pretty self-explanatory. Your boat will have seats on top that you can sit in. You won’t be enclosed by anything, meaning you’ll be out in the open.

sit-on-fishing-kayak

Sit-on-tops are very easy to get in and out of and rather user friendly, which makes them a good option for most people. You’ll enjoy the lack of confinement as you relax and take in the sights on your fishing trip.

A sit-on-top fishing kayak is difficult to topple over, so it’s a good pick if you want something reliable and trustworthy. These kayaks are usually recommended for recreational purposes (which includes fishing), as they’re wide and relatively slow. However, we mostly recommend these for warmer weather.

Sit-inside fishing kayaks

This type of kayak will keep you safe from the elements, as you will be sitting inside the boat, so a large portion of your body will remain sheltered. If you’re on cooler waters or expect the weather to take a turn for the worse, a sit-inside kayak may be better.

sit-in-fishing-kayak

Their downside is that they don’t provide the same kind of freedom as a sit-on-top will. Many fishermen prefer sit-on-tops simply because it’s easier to maneuver your fishing rods if you’re sat a little higher. 

What to consider in a fishing kayak?

Now that you know the types of kayaks we will be dealing with, it’s time to consider some other important factors before you make your final decision. A fishing kayak or an ocean kayak is a considerable expense. It’s much cheaper than owning a boat, but you should still weigh in all the pros and cons before placing an order.

Let’s take a look at some of the most important specs in a fishing kayak.

Recommended weight capacity

This is a very important factor — so much so that it might even be the most important one. Kayaks all have a maximum recommended weight capacity that they can carry. Before you head out onto the open water, you need to be one hundred percent certain that your kayak is not carrying too much.

Add up your weight (and your partner’s if you’re using a tandem kayak), your gear’s weight, supplies, and lastly, the approximate weight of the fish you’re looking to catch. If you’re planning to fish all day, you need to account for each and every possible catch. Add a little bit extra to the final weight and make sure that your kayak’s weight capacity can handle everything you’re looking to bring.

Speed or maneuverability

We briefly touched on this above, but the general rule of thumb is that the wider a kayak is, the slower its speed. In a fishing kayak, this is not exactly a disadvantage. You won’t want to race too quickly anyway, or you may scare all the fish away.

Fishermen often opt to go for short, wide kayaks. These boats offer great stability at the loss of speed. They are easier to maneuver, forward and reverse, and turn, so you will not have to struggle if it comes to moving to another part of the lake. 

A longer kayak, on the other hand, will be much faster but also less stable. This may make it difficult for you to stand in it and reel in that big catch.

Stability

As mentioned above, stability is a crucial factor in a fishing kayak. If you’re going fishing, chances are that you will need a kayak that can support you sitting in place for hours on end. For reeling in, you’ll need to be able to stand and maybe even struggle a little if you get a big fish.

Some of the best fishing kayaks are made especially for longer trips that involve standing or sitting for prolonged periods. These ‘yaks have comfy seats and plenty of leg space. They’re also wide and difficult to topple over.

Storage

Not everyone is aware of the fact that most kayaks offer a whole lot of storage. You’re likely to have front and/or rear storage. There should also be at least one or two waterproof hatches that you can store equipment in.

However, the advantage of the best fishing kayak over a regular kayak is that the storage compartments will be aimed at fishermen. You should look into a kayak that offers rod holders, a tackle and bait box, and more if you want to bring more gear on your adventure.

Rod holders

There are two kinds of rod holders in the best fishing kayaks on the market. You should consider which type you prefer before settling on a model.

There are flush-mounted holders, which are probably the more common kind. These holders are molded into the kayak and cannot be moved. The other variant is an adjustable rod holder that you can move or even detach if you need to.

Brand

Many brands produce kayaks, and there are some that focus exclusively on kayak fishing. You may have heard of Hobie Mirage Pro Angler as one of the most esteemed variants – it comes in a Mirage Pro Angler 12 or Pro Angler 14 variety. Some other brands to consider are Sevylor, ADVANCED ELEMENTS, Intex, Slayer Propel, Sun Dolphin, Pelican Catch, Old Town Predator, Native Watercraft, and more.

Whether you end up going with a Mirage Pro Angler 12 or a Sun Dolphin, the brand is less important than the features your kayak will sport. The best fishing kayaks can be found in the wares of many brands.

Seat

If you tend to only take short trips, the seat won’t be a big deal. However, when it comes to fishing, you’re likely looking at a good couple of hours that you’ll spend sitting down.

Cheaper kayaks usually feature molded-in seats. These tend to have a hard surface and get a little uncomfortable after a while. If you’re willing to spend a little extra, consider getting a fishing kayak that has adjustable seats with proper back support. 

Material

The material is not often a big gamechanger, but it’s good to consider in terms of what waters you’ll be using your kayak in. You definitely want something durable if you know that you’ll be swimming in unsteady waters. As such, we recommend hard-shell kayaks for those circumstances. In fact, if you’re headed out onto the ocean, look into getting an ocean kayak. Otherwise, inflatable kayaks are more common and often cheaper to buy.

Propulsion

Last but not least, ask yourself about the type of propulsion you prefer to be dealing with. The majority of the best fishing kayaks are propelled with paddles. However, there is an increasing trend on the market now that promotes the use of a pedal system.

Anglers tend to prefer leg-powered kayaks that use foot pedals. This frees your hands up for fishing and is fairly easy to operate.

Best fishing kayaks — what to pick?

We hope that our guide has helped you so far! The above should cover most of the things you need to be mindful of when shopping for a new fishing kayak. Now, let us proceed to talking about the best kayaks to fish in.

You’ve had a quick glance at our list of the best fishing kayaks. Let’s answer some of the most common questions with our recommendations.

What is the most stable fishing kayak?

A stable fishing kayak will most often be a sit-on-top kayak that is rather wide, roomy, and not too long. We have a couple on our list, and amongst them is our #1 pick!

Intex Excursion Pro Kayak

For our favorite fish kayak, we recommend this Intex model. It’s made out of remarkably durable laminate PVC with a polyester core that ensures it will weather any storm. It’s also wide and stable, allowing you to stand up to fish if you so prefer.

This is a tandem kayak, which means that you can bring a friend along on one of your adventures. It also offers ample leg space and overall room for you to store all the tools you need when going fishing.

It’s inflatable and more of a sit-inside than sit-on-top. However, the deck is not very enclosed, providing more than enough freedom to fish without any issues. More importantly, it’s suited for the unique needs of fishermen.

This kayak features two integrated recessed rod holders, allowing for both you and your partner to fish to your heart’s content. There’s plenty of storage room in here that is great for fans of fishing. It has a removable and adjustable mounting bracket that you can keep things in, such as a GPS system, a fish finder, or swivel rod holders.

As it’s powered by oars, it may not be a favorite with each and every angler. However, as you spend most of your time out on the water without having to move, you will find that the oars are not going to hinder your experience much.

Perception Pescador Pilot 12

This is a pedal fishing kayak that was specially made to accommodate anglers. This means that it features superior stability and plenty of storage space.

Many fishermen enjoy the fact that this is pedal-powered as opposed to relying on oars. While in the long run this mostly comes down to preference, you may find that you prefer pedals over oars. The pedals are also removable if you come to the conclusion that you’d rather use paddles.

This kayak is only suited for use on flat, slow-moving, and calm coastal waters. That’s one of the downsides of pedals — they don’t perform in all types of waters as well as oars might. However, that is also exactly the type of water you need for fishing, so you shouldn’t worry about it too much.

As this is a fishing kayak, it comes with many storage solutions that make your trips easier to organize. The rear and front open storage compartments let you keep your tackle, cooler, and other gear in a secure place.

It has four molded-in rod holders that let you store your rods safely even if you choose to paddle as opposed to pedal. There’s even a drink holder for your favorite beverage. 

All in all, this is not the cheapest model, but it has many convenient features that make it stand out amongst the best fishing kayaks.

Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak

This basin kayak can hold three people — that’s a whole lot for such a portable boat. How can it remain stable even when operating at full capacity? It’s simple — Sevylor took a lot of care when designing it and emphasized making it difficult to topple-over. It has an amazing weight capacity, too.

Aside from remaining stable, it’s also fairly leak-proof. Inflatable kayaks may sometimes have trouble with leaks, but this one should keep you dry even on longer excursions. This is thanks to the Airtight System that has been installed here. Of course, a lot of it also falls down to the durability of materials: heavy-duty PVC is known to stand the test of time and water.

Heavy-duty PVC is one thing, but the bottom of this fishing kayak is also rather remarkable. Made out of tarpaulin, it’s going to keep you safe from punctures. Yet another security measure comes in the form of the several air chambers found in this model. They allow the kayak to stay inflated even if a chamber should be punctured in some way. Thanks to the 3-person weight capacity, this boat is made to be sturdy.

Apart from all the stability and security that this model offers, it also comes with a whole lot of storage space. However, the main benefit is definitely the fact that it can safely transport a whole family. Carrying three people on a fishing trip is no easy feat, but Sevylor does so safely & in style.

What is the best sit on top fishing kayak?

Most of the best fishing kayaks are either straight up sit-on-top or feature a combination of SOT and SIK (sit-inside kayak). They may have a basin, but that doesn’t make them a full-on sit-inside kayak just yet.

We’ve discussed the various reasons why a sit-on-top may be better, so it’s only natural that you’d like to see some of the best fishing kayaks of the sit-on-top variety. Here are our recommendations.

Hobie 2020 Mirage Pro Angler 14

This kayak is not cheap, but for the extra price, you get extra quality. If you want something that is bound to last you years and years of amazing fishing trips, you can’t go wrong with Hobie Mirage Pro Angler.

This kayak provides a steady propulsion thanks to the powerful Hobie Mirage Drive 180 that features Turbo Fins. This is accompanied by a retractable rudder. You won’t have to work hard to get this kayak moving.

Hobie Mirage Pro Angler was specially built for fishermen, and it shows. It features two vertical rod holders as well as six horizontal rod holders. You can set out even on longer trips in this kayak and it won’t be an issue — there’s plenty of room for all your poles.

There’s a built-in tackle management system in the form of a rectangular hatch. There’s also a front hatch that has a bucket and tackle boxes. For even more space for tackle and bait, simply look underneath the seat of your Hobie Mirage.

You’ll also love the seat. It offers Boa lumbar support, so you won’t have to struggle with standing up when your fishing trip comes to an end — no backache involved here! There’s 4-way adjustability and a soft, comfortable seat here.

Hobie Mirage 14 is not a cheap option by any stretch, but it’s durable, offers plenty of storage, and has a bunch of adjustments anglers will love. If you want to treat yourself or a loved one with the purchase of the best fishing kayaks, Hobie Mirage the way to go.

Sevylor Coleman Colorado

Fishing doesn’t have to be a lonely sport. You can easily fish with a partner or a friend while maintaining great stability. This sit-on-top fishing kayak is a tandem, which means that you can bring a friend along for the journey.

As this is a fishing kayak and not just a regular recreational ‘yak, it comes with a number of features that you’ll appreciate as a fisherman. One such thing is the Berkley Quick Set Rod Holders. They’re adjustable and detachable, allowing for hands-free fishing. You can sit back and relax while waiting for a bite!

Like most Sevylor kayaks, this one is very durable and capable of withstanding even unsteady waters. Made out of 18-gauge PVC, it also sports a thick tarpaulin bottom and a tough nylon cover. The benefit of that is simple — puncturing the bottom of this kayak is really difficult to do.

If the worst were to happen and a puncture took place, you still wouldn’t have to worry. This is because this kayak also takes advantage of the innovative air chamber system. Even if a puncture happens, the fact that there are multiple air chambers will keep the kayak afloat while you make your way to the shore.

There’s plenty of storage space in here, and all of it is tailored to what a fisherman needs. You can keep your most important equipment in the mesh pockets on the sides or in one of the attached D-rings.

Wilderness Systems Radar 115

We’ll say this right off the bat — this is our favorite high-end pick. If you’re looking for a budget kayak, we discuss those below. However, if you’ve got the means to get it, why not aim high? We’re certain that Wilderness Systems Radar 115 has what it takes to satisfy even experienced anglers.

One of the best things about this sit-on-top kayak is the fact that it comes with a number of features that many other ‘yaks just cannot compare to. It’s tri-powered, so you can choose which way you prefer when it comes to moving. It has a flat platform that you can stand on while fishing, and it even has an adjustable seat that can be moved along the majority of the length of the boat.

Let’s expand a bit on the various perks this kayak brings. The tri-power system is probably the main advantage. You can either paddle, use the pedals, or power it up to get moving. It’s compatible with a motor drive if you prefer not to break a sweat when kayaking.

Fishermen will undoubtedly enjoy the inclusion of a flat-platform that you can stand on. We all know that you can’t fish only while sitting down, so this will add a whole lot to your fishing capabilities. You don’t have to worry about stability — this kayak is rather wide and has a number of security measures in place that contribute to staying afloat.

The seat here is worthy of the price. It’s highly adjustable, can be moved within the boat as you wish, and the backrest can also be adapted to your needs. It’s no longer an issue to wait for a catch for several hours — you’ll be comfortable as ever.

With extra storage space for anglers and padded footrests, this kayak is fantastic. The only downside is the price. Treat it as an investment for the years to come. It’s not the most expensive one of our list — if you want something even better, check out the Mirage Pro Angler 14 above.

What is the best cheap fishing kayak?

Some kayaks can cost upwards of $2,000. Most fall in the hundreds of dollars price range, but even with that, there is plenty of room to go cheaper. 

If you want to enjoy a great fishing trip without spending the big bucks, you absolutely can! Take a look at some of our cheapest recommendations.

Intex Challenger Kayak

This rather small kayak is the perfect pick if you want a sit-inside version for just one person. For all your single fishing needs, we recommend Intex Challenger.

Perfect for lake waters or perhaps even a slow-moving river, this is a highly maneuverable choice. It’s not very long and it is rather wide, so it makes for a good and budget option for fishermen of all experience levels.

The cockpit is easy to get into. This is a sit-inside kayak, but it’s not overly enclosed — the top of the seat sticks out of the deck. You’ll have some shelter, but not enough of it so as to restrict your freedom of movement while you fish.

There’s a cargo net at the hull that you can store extra gear in. As this kayak is relatively small, the amount of storage space is limited, so a good way to utilize this is to place your backpack in the netted compartment.

It comes with an 84-inch aluminum oar, a manual hand pump, and a repair patch. If you’re not too demanding and just want something for quick and easy fishing trips, we’re confident you’re going to love this one.

ADVANCED ELEMENTS StraitEdge Fishing Kayak

This inflatable sit-on-top fishing kayak has a comfy high-back seat, a few rod holders, and surprising durability. Let’s talk about it in greater detail.

The kayak features a wide beam that provides greater stability when fishing. Even if you’re battling against a big catch, you won’t have to worry about this boat toppling over. It’s also durable by design, made out of heavy-duty material accompanied by abrasion pads and several air chambers. This protects you from leaks in the event of a puncture.

You’ll find a good use for the removable accessory frame included in this relatively cheap model. You can customize it with rod holders, a fish finder, or other equipment. As far as rod holders go, you’ll find two of them by the seat. 

ADVANCED ELEMENTS will keep your back supported and allow you to sit comfortably for hours on end. This is due to the high-back chair that lets you sit back and relax while waiting for a bite.

This single-person kayak offers plenty of space, a lot of cargo at the front and the back, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a half. We recommend it to the less-demanding anglers. When it comes to budget picks, this one ranks high amongst some of the best fishing kayaks.

Summary

Whether you’re an expert angler or you’re just building up your dream set of equipment, a kayak is likely high on your fishing wishlist. The ability to get off the coast and search for fish in the middle of the lake or even down the stream really takes your fishing to the next level.

As a kayak is a considerable expense, it’s better to go for the best kayak fishing models as opposed to shopping at random. Take your pick and head out onto the open waters — the next big fish is waiting to be caught!

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