Getting motivated to get out there and get fit while doing outdoor activities is sometimes tough. But if you’re interested in fishing and you’ve got a decent-sized body of water anywhere near your home, a fishing kayak could be the thing for you. If you’re a beginner to fishing, then it may be a tall feat ahead when trying to figure which kayak is the best and for what price.
Don’t sweat it, though, because we’ve got you covered. We’ll be laying out the five of the best fishing kayaks for beginners and provide you with an in-depth buying guide. We are going to delve even deeper into the most critical aspects of a fishing kayak, so you can be confident in making your final purchasing decision.
- 1 Our Top 5 Best Fishing Kayaks For Beginners
- 2 What Should You Look For In A Fishing Kayak For Beginners?
- 3 Other Factors To Consider
- 4 Conclusion
Our Top 5 Best Fishing Kayaks For Beginners
While these are offered in no specific order, they are definitely the top five all-around options on the market, especially if you’re a beginner. Read on for our breakdowns of each of the five kayaks.
1. Perception Pescador Pro 10
To start you off, we have an offering from Perception Pescador. This kayak features a sit-on-top design that gives you more than enough storage and accessory mount space. That extra real estate makes it much easier to fit everything you need on your kayak for a pleasant ride on the water.
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The spacious and removable captain’s chair comes fitted with zonal mesh that promotes cooling airflow, helping you keep comfortable during your long adventure. The captain’s seat is fully adjustable, allowing you to relax, or forward when you’re really trying to move. It also provides sliding capabilities, so you can find your pedaling sweet spot. Not to mention the seat is also fully removable, which allows for a high level of versatility.
The short 10-foot length and light 57-pound weight make this a kayak you can portage whenever you want or need. This transportability allows you to take your fishing trips to roads during your travel. Here, you can fish in waters that are quiet and calm, without the distractions or noise caused by other boaters and fishers.
If you’re a beginner, stability is an essential aspect of the fishing kayak you decide to buy. It keeps the riders in an upright position, ensuring you stay dry during both entry and exit due to its large cockpit. This will help beginners gain confidence during their paddling and fishing. The well-designed hull is also fast and efficient, allowing you to cover a lot of water with little to no effort than you’d expect from a 10-footer.
Perception also doesn’t mess around when it comes to the durability of their kayaks. You’ll get excellent protection from the harmful UV rays of the sun thanks to the high-density polyethylene and one-piece roto-molded construction of the kayak. Not to mention that design is impact and abrasion-resistant as well.
The replaceable skid plate also increases the durability of your kayak. When trying to drag your raft full of gear to the water, it adds additional protection to the bottom layer, avoiding any potential cracks or holes.
The stainless steel and brass are built to survive the ocean and saltwater, preventing any corrosion. This is one of the most significant issues for long-term use, so we suggest that you annually oil and lubricate your kayak for further reassurance as well.
Safety is an aspect that should never be taken for granted, and it definitely wasn’t with the Pro 10. This fishing kayak has built-in buoyancy, which is essential for kayakers to move swiftly and balanced in the water. Buoyancy aids in the overall stability of the raft, helping you feel more secure and relaxed. The added buoyancy also means you won’t have to purchase additional stabilizers, saving you money.
Every Pro 10 is also fitted with a non-removable U.S. Coast Guard-compliant ID number on their hull. This will help anyone who’s potentially distress in the water and can be identified quickly. Keep in mind that if you’re a beginner, it is always best to go kayaking with your friends or family, so that you’ve always got some reassurance and support.
2. Lifetime Tamarack Angler Sit-On-Top Kayak 120
Next up is an entry from Lifetime that comes in a beautiful forest green color. This sit-on-top design has an adjustable padded seat back that features front as well as rear shock cord straps. It also has two six-inch storage hatches in the back and center as well two flush-mounted fishing rod holders, a top mount pole holder, and a paddle cradle. The Lifetime Tamarack 120 Angler Kayak comes in at 10 feet in length with a light 52-pound weight.
That small frame can deal with a lot, though, with a 275-pound weight capacity to go with front and rear T-handles and deep hull tracking channels to make transporting the kayak a lot simpler. The 52-pound lightweight of the kayak makes it one of the best options if you’re looking to carry your boat around.
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This fishing kayak is also manufactured with UV-protected blow-molded high-density polyethylene, which makes it very durable. With its flat-bottom, it makes it a lot more stable in the water, allowing you to catch fish without the added bounce. The bottom also has chine rails, which determine the shape of the hull and provides edge control when turned sideways.
If you’re afraid that height will make this kayak uncomfortable, don’t worry. The cockpit is long enough, which makes it a comfortable seat during your fishing trip for taller people. You’ll also not need to worry if it pinches your hips, a 42″ waist will not have any trouble fitting in without having to worry about pain.
Lifetime shows versatility with its adjustable footrests, which accommodate lots of different sizes of riders. It also has a pair of six-inch storage compartments located in the rear and center of the kayak to keep your smaller necessities safe.
3. Vibe Kayaks Sea Ghost 110
Here we give you a ‘luxury’ option on our list. The Sea Ghost 110 from Vibe Kayaks does all with its range of modern functionality, great for both beginners and advanced kayakers. This 11-foot kayak goes about 33 inches across and weighs in at just 62 pounds but also has a hefty capacity of 425 pounds.
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What makes the Sea Ghost so impressive is its customization capabilities. Its work deck and gear space are as customizable as they come. Its large 425-pound capacity means you don’t have to leave any gear behind and can keep any equipment needed for the kayak journey. The Sea Ghost also has an integrated, toe-controlled Rudder System as well as a multitude of rigging and storage options.
For premium comfort, this Vibe kayak has dual positions, ventilated fabric for the seat, and customizable foot braces so that riders of all sizes can enjoy. It also features easily accessible gear tracks and four phantom-grip carrying handles. The grip makes transportation more natural and easy, especially if you are carrying heavy gear. It also has a quick-access paddle park and built-in cupholders. The Sea Ghost has the ideal slip-resistant deck platform for all anglers from aspiring to expert. The smooth, well-designed hull also ensures speedy tracking that will keep you on-course.
You can also feel confident in the construction of your kayak when you get the Sea Ghost 110 from Vibe Kayaks. The design features a tried and true slip-resistant deck with a performance-crafted, ultra-stable, roto-molded single piece polyethylene. The polyethylene has been fashioned into a smart and extremely silent pontoon-style hull that keeps you as quiet as can be on the water. This way, you can get some real stealth-fishing done.
The toe-controlled rudder system can also help you get on fish more quickly, which can be a significant advantage, especially for beginners. The fact that the rudder is toe-controlled also allows you to stay energized during long paddles and strong currents.
4. BKC RA220 Single Fishing Kayak
This one is another sit-on-top model, which is generally viewed to be the easier of the two kayak types to use for beginners. It is considered the Swiss Army Knife of solo fishing kayak and offers a great variety of features. It comes with four storage areas, three of which are sealed and, therefore, are great places to keep precious items such as your phone, keys, or wallet. The fourth area is for open cargo and is secured with a secured tie-down system that can handle even larger gear.
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It also has a fisher finder cutout that can be found in the hull, which makes sit easier to store a successful catch. The seats are incredibly comfortable, especially if you intend to do long fishing trips. Due to its comfort, It makes for finding new fishing spots a breeze.
This sit-on-top model is also a good option for the standing fisherman or fisherwoman thanks to its advanced stability levels, which are supplemented by its hefty 34-inch beamwidth. You won’t have to worry about your paddle sliding off anywhere, thanks to the trusty paddle rests. Two flush-mount pole holders can take care of your rods while you’re busy paddling or relaxing in your comfortable kayak as well.
This design from Brooklyn Kayak Company uses a foot-operated rudder that allows you to steer around obstacles or through chop like a real pro. Not to mention its 11-foot, six-inch hull paired with a 34-inch beam across the width give it nearly unparalleled stability. If you’re looking to push the envelope as a beginner and try some long casts in the standing position, this kayak is a great choice. It has a stable and robust construction, which allows for excellent balance you need to get that job done.
Unlike other kayaks, that usually requires you to set the rod down to steer, you can use your feet with the peddle-operated rubber to guide the kayak in the right direction. It also allows you to steer the watercraft without the need for paddles as well. This is great for beginners who are looking for simplicity and ease of use during the very first trip.
No need to worry about your own size with this kayak, either. Because, even though it weighs just 68 pounds, it can carry up to 450. That means any adult can safely float on this kayak and bring a ton of gear with them too. Three ergonomically placed handles also make it as easy as possible to transport those 68 pounds if you’re ever in the mood for a portage or a fishing excursion at a secluded pond.
To top it all off, it also has three separate waterproof storage areas, so you never have to worry about your valuables getting ruined. If you want to avoid swamping at all costs, this kayak’s multiple drain ports will definitely be something you’re glad to see too.
5. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 90
This kayak is also one of the smaller options on our list, weighing in at 46 pounds with a nine-foot length and a 32-inch width. But what the Skipjack lacks in flash and size it makes up for in compact substance. Because it’s manufactured for stability, this Vibe kayak can track seamlessly over any kind of water conditions.
It also has a six-inch V-wave deck plate as well as waterproof baggage, so you don’t need to worry about your electronics getting ruined. At the same time, you can enjoy the water and the outside world. Front and rear storage areas secured with bungee tie-downs also mean that you can bring whatever supplies you desire with you. Just be sure they don’t push you over the watercraft’s 300-pound capacity limit. The modern design of the watercraft’s hull will also ensure that your journey is as quick as you want it to be. The smart, slip-resistant deck will also eliminate a lot of unnecessary mistakes.
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For the sake of simplicity and peace of mind, the Skipjack also comes in a single-piece format that’s leak-proof thanks in large part to six scupper holes, which come with corresponding plugs. It also features built-in buoyancy and durable, trustworthy construction. This kayak is made from performance-crafted ultra-stable roto-molded single-piece polyethylene, one of the most used and most trusted kayak materials out there.
High-level comfort is also an advantage of the Skipjack, as it’s build includes a backrest, cushion, and four quickly accessible rod holders. It also has foot braces that adjust for all shapes and sizes and easy-reach cup holders. Not to mention the four molded-in comfort grip handles that allow for hassle-free transport of this lightweight 46-pound kayak.
What Should You Look For In A Fishing Kayak For Beginners?
Now that you know who the top products for kayak fishing for beginners, it’s time to consider which factors you should use to compare to make your final decision. Hopefully, this buying guide will help you pinpoint which facets of a fishing kayak are most important to you.
Type of Kayak
When it comes to fishing kayaks, there are two types. You can go for the sit-on-top kayak or sit-inside kayak. Both offer a different experience for beginners but offer quite different pros and cons when it comes to the fishing aspect of the kayak. Here’s a further breakdown of both types of kayaks on the market today and why they might be the type you prefer:
Sit On Top Kayak
These are the more user-friendly kayaks, so as a beginner, these could very well be the answer for you. They’re stable, simple to get in and out of, and you’ll never get any feeling of confinement in one of these.
Another great feature of the sit-on-top kayak is that it’s self-bailing due to the scupper holes that allow water to drain out of it. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about swamping in a sit-on-top kayak. This makes it ideal for any beginning kayakers who are nervous on their first trip.
Sit-on-top kayaks usually have an open design, which makes it easy for cargo to fit inside without having to worry about space. However, it often doesn’t have an ample enough dry space storage compared to a sit-in yak. You can also mount any accessories you have, such as a kayak fish finder onto its utility tracks.
It is the most ideal for fishing since you can stand on top of the kayak, allowing for the optimal casting motion of your fishing rod and reeling of your catch. Some come with a mounted angler and built-in rod holder, which makes fishing even more easier. The other advantage is its customization; you’ll be able to install a GPS for navigation, rubber for added control, and a motor for faster speed (or alternative to excessive paddling). But, this will require additional research for beginners.
The drawback of a sit-on yak, it doesn’t perform well in rough water conditions or even slight ocean tides. You’ll find yourself doing more paddling than necessary. The weight of most sit-on yaks doesn’t help either, making the transportation needlessly difficult. So, try not to burn yourself out before you even hit the water and ask for help lifting it on top of your car and dragging it to the water.
Since you’re on top and not inside, you’re going to get wet much more often. When pabbling, water can enter the yak, making the inside wet, getting dry clothes soaked. So, try not to have any equipment or items inside (or place it within the storage unit). If staying mostly dry during your trip is essential, sit-on-top may not be the best option for you. However, if you don’t mind the splash, the sit-on-top kayak is ideal for most beginners as it offers many beginner-friendly features.
Sit Inside Kayak
On the other hand, we have sit-inside kayaks. While they don’t offer as many definite pros and advantages as sit-inside kayaks, the big one that they do offer is the dry factor. If you’re someone who doesn’t want to have to mix their passion for kayak fishing with the wetness of the water, a sit-inside kayak is a way to go.
Sit-in yaks are much more suited for anglers, especially when dealing with frigid waters, as you’re less likely to get wet or cold. Since sit-in yaks are much more narrow, they are much faster. You can also use your core to maneuver, making for a much more stable kayak. Sit-ins are very fast, due to its low center of gravity and being wider compared to a sit-on-top. This makes for better long-distance kayaking and stability. These models also come with more open space in the hull, which gives you more accessible storage space and dry sections to store items.
One of the most significant drawbacks of the sit-inside kayak is the fact that it can become swamped if too much water gets inside the boat. It lacks the scupper holes that most sit-on-top kayaks have, which can lead to flipping. As a beginner, try to stay close enough to the shore if too much water gets inside so you can swim back to safety if needed. To avoid this, you may need to invest in a bulkhead to make it water-tight within the hull.
Sit-in yaks are not ideal for fishing since you need adequate motion. The inner cockpit doesn’t allow you to stand or angel your fishing rod. You’ll find yourself trying to push left or right to try and get a proper angle for a catch. It also doesn’t have a fish finder cutout, making storage not possible.
Make Sure You Get The Right Size For You
If you’re a kayaking beginner, it would be best to try and find a demo day somewhere so that you can try paddling or pedaling in several different kayaks. This will help you determine which design offers you the most comfort and appeal. For example, if you are a tall person above 6-feet, we suggest having at least a 12-foot kayak. Otherwise, it’ll be tough to move within the water and more prone to tilting.
Legroom is an essential factor to consider if you’re above-average in height. The added space could be built right in, or you may find a kayak with an adjustable seat to accommodate longer legs. Those adjustable seats can also be used to allow you to paddle or pedal with more of a comfortable bend in your knee.
Considering you’ll be spending some significant periods sitting in this kayak, be sure that the seat is slightly elevated. This will help you keep dry and comfortable throughout your fishing kayak journey.
The size and specs of your fishing kayak are also essential. Kayaks under 11 feet in length are considered shorter kayaks. Therefore, they have much better maneuverability than longer kayaks, which are generally 12 feet or longer. So if you want to be able to make decisive turns and movements, a smaller kayak is best. Moreover, if it’s the long-distance speed you’re looking for, the longer kayaks are undoubtedly the way to go.
The type of body of water in which you’re kayaking is a factor as well, with shorter kayaks more suited to little ponds, creeks, and backwaters. Meanwhile, their longer counterparts are much better for fishing in lakes, rivers, or even the oceans. But beginners may want to take their time building up their way up to broad waters.
Pedal or Paddle?
Generally, when you think kayak, paddling comes to mind. However, several manufacturers offer in-side pedals. There are several advantages of using your feet to pedal, one of them is freeing your hands when it comes to fishing and muscle aches.
But, there are a few disadvantages as well. It may be hard to pedal if the yak is more massive in weight while carrying gear. They are also not very efficient in shallow water and a downgrade in maneuverability when compared to paddling. While pedal-powered kayaks might sound like a great solution, it’s always smart to keep a paddle with you as a backup just in case the pedal system breaks down.
Although we love the advancements that we’ve seen in kayaks over the last few years in terms of storage, fishing, and stability. There is one drawback: fishing kayaks are more massive than they’ve ever been.
First, sit-on-top kayaks are usually a lot heftier than the sit-in models. If you plan on portaging to unseen waters regularly, you’ll want to go with a lighter model to make the transport easy on yourself. This is very important, especially if you are carrying extra equipment and gear, which can take a toll on your body.
If you go heavy, here are a few tips to consider when lifting:
- Use your lower-body: Put your arms around the cockpit and bend your knees slightly. Ensure you have a firm grip on the kayak and that your knees are always bent to prevent damage to your joints.
- Roll it over your shoulder: Once your knees are bent, and you have a firm grip on the cockpit, pull the kayak towards your hip and over your shoulder. Then proceed to transport to your car or water.
- If you have a partner: You two should be facing the vessel on the same side of the kayak. You both need to slightly bend your knees, as mentioned above, and slowly lift the kayak shoulder level.
When having a heavy kayak, make sure you have suitable transportation. Will you be using the top of your car, truck bed, or trailer? You may want to consider investing in a universal kayak carrier. Otherwise, a moderate size sit-on-top yak isn’t too heavy for most beginners and will fit on top of most cars.
Here are some tips on transporting your kayak without a roof rack.
Stability & Width
As a beginner, don’t forget about stability. While it is easy to think negatively about falling or tipping over your first kayak, most modern ones have impressive balance, with a minimum width of 30-inches. So the chances of you falling are slim, as long as you correctly enter and exit the kayak.
We do not recommend standing on a kayak on your first trip out. However, as you get comfortable, you won’t have any problems standing and fishing on a sit-on-top yak. Just avoid the V-shaped hull, since it can be particularly tippy. Wider models with flat-bottom or tunnel hulls are much more stable for stand-up fishers and larger individuals. As well as people who spend their time in smaller bodies of water.
The next thing to consider is a long or short kayak. Shorter kayaks tend to be slower and more easily affected by waves. Longer kayaks are much more adept at cutting through waves, and they paddle easier. It is why you often see professional kayakers in the long yet skinny variety. With the longer yak, you can ride through rougher waters, and the thin frame is excellent for trollers or anglers.
But, stability is in the eyes of the paddler, no matter the size. The best tip we can give you is to stay up-right when in rough waters. For a beginner, Perception Pescador is a good start for excellent stability but designed to be pushed with the current due to its lightweight. BKC RA220 is more ideal for traveling through rough waters and will keep upright. If you’re fishing in a mostly calm sea, a short and firm recreational kayak will serve you well.
Other Factors To Consider
We’ve covered you on all the most essential factors to consider when looking for the best fishing kayak for beginners. Here are a few more minor things that may have a little or significant impact on your buying decision, depending on what you’re looking for:
It’s tough for a lot of people to do anything without some technology by their side. If nothing else, you’ve got to have your tunes, right? Many manufacturers are now building more advanced kayaks to accommodate modern electronics such as phones or kayak fish finders. These are best for someone who spends long hours out on the water, but if you’re sticking to shallow rivers and shorter times in your kayak, the extra gadgets might not be worth the higher price tag.
The Keel of A Kayak
If you’re at all familiar with sailing or boats, in general, you probably know what a keel is. It’s a fin-shaped piece of the ship that sticks out from the hull and into the water below to improves the kayak’s speed and tracking ability. You can find kayaks out there with no keel, a retractable one, or one integrated right into the hull.
If you’re out doing deeper, open water fishing, kayaks with an integrated keel are the way to go. It will help make paddling much more efficient and comfortable for you. People more interested in fishing in shallow creeks, rocky rivers, or doing it standing up is best-suited with a keel-less kayak. If you like to mix it up, the retractable keel is the one for you.
When in perfect casting conditions, you want to stay put when fishing. An anchor is an excellent investment, depending on what type of fishing you’re going to do and where. There are many different options, including a traditional anchor system or an electronic anchoring system. In open waters, it is critical to a fisherman’s success. Below, are two standard anchoring systems:
1) Kayak Mushroom anchor: A mushroom anchor is easy to install and most often used in calm, shallow waters. It’s usually vinyl coated and weighs eight pounds, which is ideal for kayakers looking for something lightweight.
2) Kayak sea anchor: If you’re in more rough waters, we recommend a kayak sea anchor. It’s easily attachable to your kayak, with a keel and float system to stop spinning. You can fine-tune your drifting and trotting speed, making it an ideal anchor for more advanced fishers.
If you’re an angler that enjoys fishing and drifting with the current, an anchoring system might be somewhat unnecessary. Otherwise, we highly recommend an anchor for beginners. This will help keep you stable in the water, while you catch your bait.
We hope that going through this guide has convinced some of you that kayak fishing is a new hobby you’d like to try. And if so, we would suggest looking no further than our top five list we mentioned earlier in the guide. Below, we are going to choose our best fishing kayak for beginners:
We highly recommend the Perception Pescador Pro 10. It is the perfect kayak for amateurs with lots of storage options, optimal stability, and lightweight for maneuverability during travel. What really impressed us is its fish-finder holders, which makes your rod storage hand-free and adjustable seats, which can be lowered for casting. The other advantage is its efficient hull track, allowing you to stay on course and cover lots of water and built-in buoyancy for additional safety.
No matter what you choose, pick the kayak that is best for your body type, your preferences (sit-in or sit-on-top), overall stability, and portability. If you want to dig deeper, you can select other options such as electronics, keel, and dry-storage space into your buying decision.
Happy paddling and good luck dropping your line!