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When you don't have access to a boat, then a kayak can be your best friend while you're fishing. High-quality options are known to be comfortable, durable and easy to use while you focus on fishing. Luckily, there are plenty of fantastic kayak options out there.
Fishing offshore will offer you a new standpoint on life. The sea will hold larger and more diversity of fish than small freshwater lakes, so saltwater fishing is a great adventure which is why you need kayak.
Whether you're looking for a sit-on or sit-in, inflatable or hard shell, you'll find whatever you need in this list. The options listed here are all highly rated and are unlikely to let you down! Read on and find the best kayaks for saltwater fishing to suit your needs as well as your budget.
Best Kayak for Saltwater Fishing Reviews
1. Brooklyn Kayak Company (BKC) RA220 Fishing Kayak
The BKC is an 11.5 foot sit-on-top, single angler, hard-body kayak with a weight capacity of 450 pounds. The design is ideal for those avid fisherman, touting 2 built-in flush-mount fishing rod holders.
This kayak features several nice options not found in several similar kayaks: 2 flush mount fishing rod holders, fish finder cut out, 4 storage areas, 3 that are watertight, bungee tie-down systems, and a foot pedal-operated rudder for ultimate control. The BKC offers a lot of bang for the buck with this kayak.If you are considering going the route of a tandem kayak the Brooklyn Kayak Company (BKC) TK219 Tandem Fishing Kayak offers the same features as the BKC 220 and more.
2. Perception Pescador Pro
The Perception Pescador Pro fishing kayak is a high-density polyethylene with a 475 pound load capacity. The kayak is 12 feet long, accommodating a single angler. The Pescador Pro is a shorter length and lighter weight kayak increases maneuverability and ease of transporting. This does however limit its use on coastal waters to light waves.
The Perception kayak features a removable seat, adjustable footrests, front and rear open storage, and 2 molded rod holders.
3. Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Fishing Kayak
The Vibe Sea Ghost 130 fishing kayak is a rigid, hard-body kayak with a 550 pound load capacity. This kayak is 13 feet long that accommodates a single angler. The construction design creates a very stable craft making it a good option for a fishing kayak.
The Vibe features 2 flush-mount rod holders and 4 integrated gear tracks for customized rigging, toe controlled rudder system, multiple storage options, fish finder mount and a dual position seat.
4. Lifetime Tamarack Angler
The Lifetime Kayak is a rigid, hard-body single angler kayak with a weight capacity of 275 pounds. This is a 10-foot durable kayak can be used in a wide range of environments and has a very stable flat hull making it a perfect kayak for hauling in the big one while you’re fishing.. The hull ensures it will be stable and the integrated skeg assists with tracking.
The kayak’s length, width, weight and design prioritize stability over agility and speed. The design focus on stability ensures you remain upright with the kayak easily handling waves up to 3 feet. The Lifetime features include molded front and rear carrying handles, adjustable seat back and pad providing comfort and support, one top mount fishing rod holder and 2 flush mount rod holders.
5. Vibe Skipjack 90
The Vibe Skipjack kayak is a rigid, hard-body fishing kayak with a weight capacity of 300 pounds. This kayak is 9 feet long and will accommodate a single angler. The construction design creates a very stable craft making it a good option for a fishing kayak.
The Vibe features multiple rod holders for your convenience: two V-Wave hatches and a cargo area with bungee ties providing ample storage; waterproof cargo hatches; paddle holders; 4 molded carrying handles; and paddle parks, plus easy access paddle rest.
Buyers Guide: Kayaks for Saltwater Fishing
Fishing from a kayak provides a unique perspective and advantageous slant when you set out to catch the big one. A growing number of anglers are choosing to fish from a kayak rather than a boat. While a motorized boat will allow an angler to cover more water, a kayak presents multiple advantages over the traditional fishing boat, from the quiet solitude to a considerable savings in your bank account. A few of the benefits when you choose to go angling from a kayak include:
- Unique Perspective: Kayaks are in close proximity to the water line. This makes it much easier to cast your bait close to a pier or dock. The pace is much slower and relaxing. Improves your fishing skills based on the need to maximize your location, your understanding of fish and their patterns, and learning new ways to fish. Additionally, you add the fitness component to your outings.
- Partnership: Either using a tandem kayak or going with a friend in single kayaks creates an intimate and social outing, and creates a team effort to your challenge.
- Cost Savings: As the saying often goes, “The two happiest days of owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it.” The costs pile up when you own a boat: transporting, insurance, maintenance, fuel cost, storage, etc. It can really add up. Simply compare the cost of a kayak to that of a fishing boat and you’ll get the idea.
- Water Access: Most anglers can’t pass a body of water without wondering what kind of fish they could catch. A fishing powerboat will require a ramp to launch, not so with a kayak. Anglers can access waterways at just about any point, as well as those that are off-limits to fishing boats. A kayak can be launched virtually anywhere there is access to the shoreline.
- Portability: Kayaks can be transported with a roof-rack, on a trailer, or in the bed of a truck.
- Customized: Kayaks can either be purchased fully outfitted or you can customize your kayak to fit your style and needs.
So, if you are interested in gaining a unique perspective and gaining some advantages in your angling experiences the following information should help you in making your decision.
Choosing a Fishing Kayak
Sit-on-top Fishing Kayak vs Sit-inside Fishing Kayak
Anglers preference seems to be a sit-on-top fishing kayak. The reasoning is that they allow you to easily customize and add accessories, while also permitting easier entry and exiting of the kayak. The down-side is you’re going to likely have a wet ride under certain circumstances. A sit-inside fishing kayak provides a cockpit that will keep you drier, along with additional support and leverage. Under colder weather conditions and in colder water a sit-inside will keep you warmer. Additionally, you will have a lower center of gravity, increasing your stability but is much more difficult to get in and out of should this be an important factor for you.
Your decision of whether to purchase a sit-on-top or a sit-inside kayak will come down to your personal preferences. Sit-on-top kayaks will provide you with a few more options and are slightly more popular. If you are not feeling strong one way or the other then you can explore both options in the models available.
Types of Hulls
- Flat Bottom: Maximum stability, ideal for beginners, not recommended for rough water or the ocean.
- Rounded Bottom: Cuts through the water requiring less effort to go faster, as a result there is less stability compared to a flat bottom, best suited for intermediate level kayakers.
- V-shaped: If you are looking to maximize your speed the V-shaped hull is the direction you should go. If you are planning to travel longer distances in your kayak, the increased speed, ability to make quick, sharp turns, increasing maneuverability the V-shaped will be your best fit. V-shaped kayaks are best suited for the skilled kayaker as they are the least stable and require a good skill set to ride.
Inflatable or Hard-Body
Inflatable kayaks have flat bottoms and are often more stable than a hard-body. A stable kayak provides a secure safe feeling and are ideal for beginners. Inflatables are often less expensive, are much easier to transport, not requiring a roof rack or trailer and are much easier to store. Inflatable kayaks are ideal for camping, vacationing, exploring remote areas.
The amount and weight of your gear along with the weight of the individuals who will be kayaking should be considered before purchasing your kayak. The fishing kayaks we have recommended have load capacities from 275 to 550 pounds. If you have 75 pounds of gear, you weigh 220 pounds, you would be 20 pounds over this kayak’s load capacity.
If you are a taller individual, a longer kayak will provide more leg room. Typical kayaks range from 10 to 14 feet in length. Consider how you will be transporting and storing, if you will be portaging, how much kayak storage you will need and your skill level. Longer kayaks are less easily maneuvered requiring a high skill level.
You will need to take into consideration the weight of your kayak, in relation to the upper body strength you possess, your height and your energy levels. Hard body kayaks need to be loaded and unloaded, stored, transported, portaged and a variety of situations where you will have to move or physically manage your kayak.
Know and Consider the Trade-offs
It’s incumbent on you to understand and become knowledgeable in the various trade-offs your final decisions will ultimately have on your fishing outings. For example:
- The longer the kayak, typically the faster the vessel. Longer kayaks are faster than their shorter counterparts.
- The wider the kayak, typically the more stable the kayak and visa versa.
- As you become more experienced and your confidence improves, you will obviously get better at your sport. This is an example of considering and anticipating your future needs and desires for your kayak’s performance.
During your purchasing process, consult other kayak anglers, local experts and knowledgeable individuals.
Do your Due Diligence
You are both making a significant investment and wanting a kayak that will maximize your abilities. Failing to do your due diligence is going to result in a poor decision. A few suggestions to better ensure you make the best possible decision:
- Go to a kayak shop, ask questions and seek advice.
- Read the fishing kayak reviews.
- Dealers and local shops will, on occasion, allow you to rent a kayak, so you can try it out. In some instances the dealer will allow you to rent and then apply that cost to the purchase of a new kayak.
- Take a trip with a fishing guide. This will expose you to an experienced angler and the opportunity to use a rigged kayak. The best part is you’ll get to catch some fish.
These are just a few suggestions and will not provide you with all the answers but far more than walking into the big box store and picking a kayak that looks good.
Seat Adjustability and Comfort
The design and quality of seats varies significantly from kayak to kayak. If you are fishing in a kayak it means you will be on the water and in your vessel for extended periods. Comfort becomes of the utmost importance. You tell me, if you are going to be sitting for several hours, would you prefer a big old lazy boy or a hardwood dining table chair? Choose your kayak seat wisely.
Additionally, take into consideration if your fishing kayak seat has an adjustable backrests, footrests, lumbar supports, etc. as they can make for an enjoyable adventure or if not available can be the cause of an unpleasant experience.
Stability: Wider flat bottom kayaks provide more stability. Inflatables have flat bottoms and generally are more stable. Wider round hull kayaks are more stable and more difficult to flip. Double hull kayaks, although not common, are very stable.
Construction: Inflatable models can potentially get punctured. The design and quality of how the kayak is built always needs to be considered; you are going to be out on the water and your energy level does have limits.
Additional Features and Accessories
Anglers are notorious for having all the newest and coolest gadgets. You will need to factor the types of accessories you are planning to use in your purchase of a fishing kayak. Your kayak will need to be adaptable for the purposes you intend.
Depending on how you plan to use your kayak the features offered should be considered. Typical features found on various kayaks include: fishing rod holders, hand grips, storage compartments, fish finder mounts, waterproof stowage, paddle holders, cup holders, repair kits for inflatables, paddles and air pump included, etc.
You will also need to decide if you will purchase a kayak that is outfitted or is just a basic kayak. Dealers may try to persuade you to purchase a rigged angler model over a stock model. Let's just cut to the chase, when you get right down to it, the only real difference between a kayak and a fishing kayak is rod holders.
If you have a few skills and power tools, with the little advice from a fellow kayak angler or watching a few YouTube videos you can open up the world of rigging out your kayak. Now a word of wisdom, learned in any high school woodworking class, “always measure twice and cut once” or in this instance drill once. If your unsure and would be more comfortable there is no shame in going with the angler models that are already rigged out.
Tandem kayaks are much more stable, which makes them great for beginners or teaching someone how to kayak or for fishing. The design, width and length of the kayak determines the degree of stability and generally tandem kayaks provide greater stability over solo kayaks.
Space and Storage
Tandem kayaks offer significantly more storage area for gear over the standard solo kayak. It is important to note that all kayaks have weight limits and that the heavier your kayak the poorer it will perform and respond.
Frequently Asked Questions About Saltwater Fishing Kayaks
Are Sit-On-Top Kayaks Better for Fishing?
Sit-on-top kayaks provide more stability and are less restrictive that a sit-in kayak. The sport of fishing involves movement and activity, making stability and the ability to move freely important considerations. Not all sit-in kayaks are ideal for fishing, however they certainly are appropriate and able to successfully fish from and should be part of your considerations.
Does the color of my kayak matter?
There is no evidence that the color of a kayak has any significant impact on fish and the likelihood of your catching fish. A consideration where the color can make a difference is that brighter and bolder colors may make it easier to be spotted in an emergency or by other boaters. In the end, it will most likely come down to your own personal preferences.
Can I outfit my kayak with additional accessories?
There are numerous accessories and ways to outfit your personal kayak. This will be dependent on your personal preferences and the type of fishing you plan to engage in. Typically, anglers who have the knowledge, skills and tools will rig their fishing kayaks with extra rod holders, storage compartments, GPS systems, fish finders, tackle boxes and coolers, and a variety of technical instruments.
We would strongly recommend consulting experienced and knowledgeable individuals before proceeding. The following video provides some good tips and ideas for basic and advanced rigging of your kayak for fishing:
Is a longer or shorter kayak better for saltwater fishing?
Again, it comes down to your personal preferences, however you should understand that longer kayaks are generally faster, with shorter kayaks being more maneuverable. For offshore fishing, anglers will typically choose a longer, faster kayak to support your ability on the larger body of water to cover more territory.
When beginning your search for a fishing kayak your personal preferences should guide your decision making. A few simple guidelines to direct your research process should include the type of kayak, your personal body type, the stability of the kayak, portability and transportability, and the amount of time and money you are willing to invest. As a side note, you should consider exploring a used kayak. Often times anglers will upgrade their kayaks and this presents you with a potential opportunity. The buyers guide and kayak recommendations should assist you in getting started.
This article provides our top 5 recommendations for saltwater fishing kayaks. Based on the Brooklyn Kayak Company (BKC) RA220 stands out as it provides the significant number of angler accessories in a high quality, well constructed fishing kayak. In addition to the BKC we have recommended the Perception Pescador Pro, Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 130 Fishing Kayak, Lifetime Tamarack Angler, and Vibe Skipjack 90.
We listed our top 5 angler kayaks for your consideration, along with a buyers guide to provide you with the requisite information to assist in making your decision. Let us know in the comments section which fishing kayak you choose.
For more of our top kayaking gear recommendations, please visit the following articles.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.