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Top 10 Best Fishing Kayaks, Inflatable Boats, Pontoons, Float Tubes & Rafts For 2023

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You first took up fishing as a young kid. Your parents gave you a cheap rod and some bread bait.

They showed you how to do it the first time. Shortly after that, you caught your very own fish.

You were hooked.

Now you’re all grown up and you’ve taken your fishing activities to the next level many times now.

You’ve probably got the best rod, best bait, best hooks, best lures and all that.

But if you’re dead serious about fishing, you can’t be sitting at the sidelines all your life.

You’ve gotta be in the water, where the fish are.

Swimming’s not an option. So you know what to do…

The 10 Best Fishing Kayaks, Boats, Pontoons, Tubes, Rafts

1. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set

If you are a beginner who is just learning the ropes of kayak fishing or kayaking in general, it is not advisable to overspend on a fancy or new kayak. Instead, you should buy an inexpensive and small vessel that will allow you to learn then later invest substantially. The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person is such a vessel. It is one of the most affordable fishing rafts. Due to its miniature size, it should mostly be used in calm waters or smaller water bodies. Its small size also makes it easier to navigate than the larger two-man pontoon boats. Weighing slightly over 20lbs, kids who are 10 years and above should not have a problem operating the canoe in safe water conditions.

It features a comfortable adjustable seat, firmly positioned by Velcro fastening straps, which are easy to relocate. If you have a long day out canoeing, this one comes with sufficient space to store your gear and other accessories. With at 220 lbs weight limitation, sufficient supplies can be stored beneath the large cargo net as well as behind the seat. It also comes with aluminum oars, which are very durable and lightweight. However, these oars are not adjustable, and you may want to consider others. The hand pump provided pumps air using both upward and downward motion. With this feature, inflation time is reduced by half.

When you are done having fun, the deflate valve allows for a quick deflation. The product is compact, which you can easily fold and place in its carrying bag. When it comes to water vessels, reliability should be your main consideration. You want something that can withstand adversity, as you learn how to navigate and paddle the kayak. The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is constructed using 30 gauge PVC vinyl that is designed to withstand puncturing by jagged rocks and hooks. It is also resistant to tear and wear, brought about by too much exposure to the sun. Its cockpit is designed to permit maximum mobility and comfort. Considering the price tag, this pontoon boat offers value for money. It is safe, reliable, functional and comfortable.

2. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
  • Comfortable for anyone: Kayak includes an...
  • Dimensions: Inflated size 10 feet 3 x 3 feet x 1...
  • Directional stability: Removable SKEG for...
  • Increased visibility: In case of emergency, bright...
  • Made for smaller bodies of water: Explorer k2 is...

If you are looking for one of the best, affordable fishing kayaks then you should consider the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak. This is an amazing outdoor fishing gear from Intex, which is a reputable brand and manufacturer with more than 40 years experience. It is one of the best fishing kayaks for beginners. It maximizes benefits in areas like reliability, safety and functionality. Functionality should be one of your main considerations when buying a kayak. This canoe has a weight limit of 350 lbs, which means that it can comfortably accommodate two adults. Its seating area is designed in a way that provides enough space, allowing decent freedom of movement.

Its inflatable seats are very cozy and comfy. They are also easy to adjust, since you only need to reposition the Velcro fastening straps, to the desired position. If you are going kayak fishing for pike with this one and you will not have company, then you should use the additional seat as storage for your supplies. This will help to counterbalance weight thus improving stability. Reliability is another important factor to look out for, since you will be going fishing away from civilization. Durability is what makes a float tube reliable. Crafted using 30-gauge vinyl material, this one can stand up to hooks, rocks and rough water conditions.

As much as the vessel is recommended for calm waters, experienced kayak users should do just fine even in rougher conditions. If you are out with your family to have some fishing fun, then you should always give priority to safety. With this Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, safety is never compromised. Created using highly durable materials, it can support the recommended weight under all water conditions. This float tube is also well balanced, giving you a guarantee of security when moving it even when kids are jumping inside. It is really hard for this one to capsize. Should it flip over by accident, it is lightweight enough for one individual to reposition it with minimal effort.

3. Intex Explorer 200, 2-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex Explorer 200, 2-Person Inflatable Boat Set with French Oars and Mini Air-Pump , Orange,...
  • 2-person inflatable boat set designed for pools or...
  • 2 air chambers for safety; Grab rope on the bow....
  • Inflatable floor for comfort and rigidity; Welded...
  • Includes 2 oars
  • Measures 73 x 16 x 37 inches (W x H x D);...

If you are preparing to go fishing for redfish, tuna and red snapper, and you want something durable yet affordable, this one would be a nice choice. This canoe is geared more towards recreational purposes and fun. It is designed to accommodate two people, with a weight capacity of 210 pounds. That is, the overall weight of the boat with everything included should not exceed 210 pounds. For comfort, it is advisable to use it alone or even with a child. That way, you will have enough room to store all your accessories, and still move around freely. Constructed from 13-gauge PVC plastic, this one weighs less than 6 pounds.

It is therefore easy to carry from one location to the other. With two separate chambers, your safety is guaranteed since one puncture will not completely deflate your raft. A repair patch kit is also included, which makes sure that you can easily attend to your canoe during an emergency. Its hull depth is just perfect to ensure that it does not take on water, unless the conditions are extreme. Also, its vibrant red and orange colors are easy to locate, especially during difficult weather conditions. It is easy to maneuver and navigate and also easy to set up. This raft is also durable enough to launch from rocks lined along the banks, grind through thick weeds and even drag it along the shore. It is portable, convenient and sturdy. You can get out without tipping it over. The paddles provided can be used as rowboat paddles. Alternatively, they can be unscrewed and used as kayak paddles.

4. Intex Excursion 5, 5-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex 68325EP Excursion Inflatable 5 Person Heavy Duty Fishing Boat Raft Set with 2 Aluminum Oars &...
  • READY FOR ADVENTURE: Great for boating or fishing...
  • EASY USE: The Excursion 4 Boat lets you take the...
  • STABILITY: Designed with heavy-duty,...
  • 5-PERSON CAPACITY: Inflated kayak size is 10.4...
  • ADVENTURE ACCESSORIES: Includes two 54-inch...

The Intex Excursion 5 is probably one of the most comfortable and largest float tubes that you can buy. It is one of the best fishing boats that you can find on the market today. It provides a great choice for families that want to have some fun by the lakeside. Although it is mainly designed for recreational use in calm waters, you can still push the limits and use it in rapids. Measuring 5.5 feet by 12.5 feet, it comes with an astonishing capacity of around 1,000 pounds. It comfortably fits 3 adults together with 2 kids, or just 4 adults. With all these people on board, there is still sufficient room to store your fishing gear as well as other necessities.

If there are 5 adults on board, there won’t be sufficient room to store your extra gear. If you are going boat fishing for mullet, this should be your companion. Just like other Intex products, this has been passed through some of the strictest safety standards, during the design and construction stages. Each canoe from Intex is closely monitored during construction, to make sure that only the highest quality materials are used. The hull of the Intex Excursion 5 is made of 30-gauge vinyl that is strong enough to prevent most common punctures.

As much as this inflatable is constructed using high quality materials, it is still susceptible to temperature changes. Vinyl works that way. When you are planning your day, it is important to keep that in mind. Therefore, your boat might require some additional pumps during the course of the day. It comes with three separate chambers. Of course they will take slightly longer to fill in, but you will appreciate their purpose. If your raft was to get punctured, it will not be completely deflated. You will have two extra air chambers, giving you enough time to paddle to the shore. With four fishing rob holders, the Intex Excursion 5 is your ideal choice when you intend to go fishing.

5. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output...
  • The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is sporty and fun...
  • The bright green color and sporty graphics make...
  • Two 86 inch aluminum paddles and an Intex high...
  • Made of company's rugged, super tough vinyl that's...
  • Measures 30 by 15 by 138 inches (W x H x D)...

The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is an easy to handle, sleek and highly portable raft. It can be used for kayak fishing in slow moving rivers and lakes. Constructed from rugged vinyl, this one is strong and durable, providing you safety on the water and longer life. With the included pump, you can be in the water in less than 10 minutes. The ultra-thick vinyl material used to construct this pontoon boat is also highly resistant to punctures and UV rays. You don’t have to fear that your raft will scrape the bottom or run into obstacles.

All you need to do is to trust the quality of materials and workmanship, worry less and have fun. It is spacious and comfortable. Constructed with a 350 lb weight limit, this one is designed for two individuals. There is enough space at the cockpit area, around the inflatable seats and the backrest. Its inflatable floor also provides both rigidity and comfort. A cargo net has also been included for storage while the grab line provides convenience when pulling it in and out of water.

Apart from giving the Intex Challenger K2 Kayak a sporty affair, the brightly colored graphics also provide improved visibility. This offers additional safety on the water, so that other watercraft or rescuers can see you on the water, whenever you encounter a challenge. Additional features include two 84-inch aluminum paddles, a repair patch kit, and a carry case. This kayak is also loved by most campers because of its portability. It can easily fit inside the trunk of a car together with other outdoor accessories.

6. Intex Mariner 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex Mariner 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air-Pump (Latest...
  • The strong molecular structure of this plastic...
  • Four Boston valves on main hull chamber for...
  • The keel is inflatable; this results in improved...
  • A durable rock guard lines the circumference of...
  • Maximum weight capacity- 1100 pounds. Inflated...

The Intex Mariner 4 is a large, durable and inexpensive inflatable, offering the best value for money when you are going for recreational fishing. You can comfortably fish from it without worrying about a stray hook set ripping up your boat. The floor is hard and strong. However, it is still packable. The oars provided are of much better quality, than what you would find from competing ones. Additionally, the oar locks offer a nice balance between maneuverability and stability.

The Intex Mariner 4 comes with all the features you would expect in an up-market model but its price tag is more favorable. This versatile inflatable raft can be used for various outdoor water activities. From inflatable seat cushions to inbuilt fishing rod holders, this one has those features you have always been looking for in an inflatable boat. Its ability to handle white water rapids as well as being great for panfish fishing means that you can have both fun and excitement, in the same raft.

The extra-sturdy PVC used to make this inflatable raft makes sure that you don’t have to be extra cautious with it. Featuring a floor made from super-tough PVC chambers, this one is stable on the water as well as being protected from any rocks or debris, which may scrape its hull. Due to its carrying capacity of 800 lbs, you can easily carry any supplies. Two rotating oar locks have been fitted along the side of this canoe, which is a feature that sets this one apart from the competition. Unlike other cheaper alternatives, the Intex Mariner 4 comes with a motor mount fitting. Therefore, if rowing is not your thing, you can simply install a outboard motor, sit back and relax.

7. Intex Seahawk 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex Seahawk 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air -Pump (Latest...
  • Perfect for 4 adults to enjoy a fun summer of...
  • Designed with heavy duty, puncture resistant PVC...
  • Contains three air chambers including an inner...
  • Inflatable cushions are included for comfort and...
  • Fishing and relaxing have never been easier with...

This is an entry-level, super comfortable, 4-person inflatable raft. Whether you are looking for a raft to flow down a river, or you simply want to spend a day relaxing by the lakeside, this is a good choice. It is also ideal for someone who wants to go recreational fishing or just having water fun with small children. Constructed using tough 30-gauge PVC vinyl, you are assured that your pontoon boat can resist impacts and abrasions. This material is also resistant to UV rays as well as oil spills from gasoline or whichever fuel that you are using. It is also created to withstand salt water use.

A family of two parents and two small children can use this one comfortably, and still leave some space for a cooler. A pair of fishermen can also fit easily into the Intex Seahawk 4, together with all their gear. It comes with 2 rod holders, which is a nice feature for avid fishermen. You can also customize your boat with a trolling motor, which will highly reduce your input, while maximizing your output. Water lovers, nature lovers and bird lovers who have budget restrictions will have a great deal of fun with the Intex Seahawk 4. It has a carrying capacity of 440 kgs, and comes with two inflatable seat cushions. Additional features include a gear pouch, two oar holders and a repair patch. The two oars are lightweight, which means that you will not spend a great deal of energy trying to paddle. They oars can also float in water, in case they are dropped.

8. Intex Excursion 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex Excursion 4, 4-Person Inflatable Boat Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump (Latest...
  • Rugged vinyl construction with inflatable I-Beam...
  • All around grab line and handle on bow
  • 2 fishing rod holders, gear pouch, inflatable seat...
  • Motor mount fittings attached
  • 4 person boat with 1,100-pound weight limit....

If you are planning a trip to the lake with your family, a boat fishing trip with your friends or you simply want to enjoy what nature has to offer, the Intex Excursion 4 is what you need. It is an excellent choice for recreational and leisurely treks to those calm waters that you have always wanted to explore. It has enough space to fit two fishermen, together with all their gear. Right out of the box, the Intex Excursion 4 is loaded and locked, ready for adventure. It is equipped with accessories and features that you would need for your rafting adventures.

Each end of the raft has a fishing rod holder. These ones will easily hold a pole, when you want to free up your hands or you simply want to relax as you wait to reel in your big catch. While still on relaxing, there are two inflatable seats fitted with backrests as well as clips to position them in place. This offers extra comfort in the waters. Rowing is easy and effortless, thanks to the 54-inch aluminum oars, that are included in the package. Also attached are oar holders together with oar locks.

These two features ensure the oars are firmly positioned in place when the vessel is not in use while providing a comfortable position when you are rowing. A grab line together with a grab handle has been included to provide convenience and ease when you are carrying the boat. A high-output hand pump pushes air when pushing down and pulling up, reducing your pumping time by close to a half. In terms of dimensions, the Intex Excursion 4 is 4 feet, 10 inches long and 5.5 feet wide. It comes with a maximum carrying capacity of 880 pounds. In total, there are 3 inflatable chambers. Like other Intex inflatable rafts, this one has also been constructed using 30-gauge vinyl to withstand all those rough conditions you are likely to encounter.

9. Intex Challenger 2, 2-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex Challenger 2, 2-Person Inflatable Boat Set with French Oars and High Output Air-Pump (Latest...
  • 3 Air Chambers including inner auxiliary chamber...
  • 2 Quick Fill/Fast deflate Boston valves
  • Inflatable floor for comfort and rigidity
  • Welded on oar locks & oar holders, grab handle on...
  • Set includes 48" oars and High Output Pump. Max...

The Intex Challenger 2 inflatable raft is one of the best inflatable boats for all your water related activities and events. Similar to the earlier versions of the Challenger K1 and the K2, this one comes with extra space, to ensure that you don’t leave behind your important hiking accessories on the shore. Apart from the extra space, it has additional weight capacity. If you are looking for a durable inflatable boat for your outdoor fishing campaigns, this one will be a great choice. This one can accommodate two adults, allowing you to enjoy your vacation, in the most comfortable and relaxed way. It has great stability and easy to use, which makes it ideal for beginners.

It is constructed using the custom-designed super touch vinyl from Intex. This material is puncture proof, as well as resistant to UV damage. This allows you to row freely, without worrying. Unless you are very careless with this boat, it is really hard to damage it. Whether you hit a rock or some roots when you are steering, they will not leave a mark. In case your boat gets damaged, there is a repair kit on board. Therefore, you can undertake quick repairs and head to the shore as you avoid hitting the bottom of the lake. If you have never used an inflatable fishing boat before, you might be worried that it might capsize. However, leave those worries at home since this is one practically impossible to capsize, thanks to its natural buoyancy. For added stability, there is an I-Beam support. It is also safe to use, even when surrounded by other boats. This is made possible by the eye catching graphics and bright vinyl coating. This reduces the risk of collision.

10. Intex Seahawk 2, 2-Person Inflatable Boat Set

Intex Seahawk 2, 2-Person Inflatable Boat Set with French Oars and High Output -Air -Pump (Latest...
  • Inflating and deflating is a breeze with two...
  • Includes 2 48in oars that are simple to use with...
  • Features: Motor mount fittings for adding the...
  • Includes: Air pump, oars, gear pouch, and repair...
  • 520lb weight capacity, compatible with Intex Motor...

The Intex Seahawk is designed to provide an excellent hunting or fishing rafting for lakes, mild rivers and ponds. You can get this inflatable raft moving, in two distinct ways. Each vessel comes with a pair of 48-inch French oars, which are both lightweight and strong. If you intend to raft for long distances, you can simply upgrade your inflatable, using a motor mount kit. Once you do this, you can then attach a 1.5 HP motor and enjoy the cruise. Every end of the raft comes with two fishing rod holders. This way, you can just attach your fishing pole on the holders and then you can relax and even grab a bottle of beer!

Whichever way you intend to use it, it is crafted using 20-guage vinyl, which is known for its durability. Whenever you are using this raft, your safety is always guaranteed. It features three separate chambers. Therefore, when one of them gets torn or deflated, you can paddle to the shore safely. A repair kit has also been included whenever you encounter an emergency. Also included in the package is a double quick hand pump, which enables you to inflate the canoe, in half the time. Once you have had enough for the day, you simply tow your raft out of the water, using the grab handle fitted at the bow. With two main valves on the hull, inflating and deflating it is fast. When you are not using the oars, you can simply leave them locked oar holders. For comfort, it comes with two seats cushions. Whether you are fishing, cruising or just camping, this one will be perfect for any day on the lake.

>>> Best Hiking Gear >>>

What You Should Learn About Fishing Kayaks

Kayak fishing is one of the most popular trends in outdoor sports. It is a popular form of recreation, which children and adults can all enjoy. The best fishing kayaks come with all the features that you need for your specific situation, to make your fishing trip as easy and enjoyable as possible. They can glide through water without sound, which is a huge advantage for anglers. Additionally, they are silent, stable, and affordable fishing options. Fishing kayaks are also preferred because they can reach zones or spots, which can be hard to reach using a traditional boat. Therefore, whether fishing is your main activity, or you do it just for recreational purposes, it is important to choose the right vessel for your needs.

How to Choose the Best Fishing Kayak

If you fear fishing from a kayak, you need to know that kayak fishing is much safer and a lot easier than it appears. For the past ten years or so, manufacturers and designers have been creating kayaks specifically for anglers. Most of the products are remarkably comfortable and stable. They are available with various features such as tackle hatches, rod holders, livewells and anchor systems. Everything from a collapsible, to sturdy, inflatables to rafts is available. You might be asking yourself why someone would prefer to fish from a kayak instead of using a motorboat. Apart from the cost obviously, there is the issue of challenge and stealth. With a kayak, you can approach a school of fish stealthily, unlike a motor boat, which will make a lot of noise. Moreover, catching and landing large fish from a kayak is a more intimate and personal challenge. However, it is important to understand the basic elements of a fishing kayak, in order to identify the right one for your needs. How then do you determine the fishing kayak to purchase?

Different Types of Kayak Fishing

Before you can even purchase the right kayak for your specific needs, you should first determine the type of kayak fishing you will be pursuing, since fishing kayaks, canoes and rafts are not equally created. Kayak fishing is divided into two distinct and clear categories. These are saltwater fishing and fresh water fishing. Moreover, these two categories are further divided into other subcategories. For example, freshwater kayak fishing consists of fishing in moving water and fishing in still waters. On the other hand, salt water fishing is divided into offshore and inshore fishing. It is therefore important to know that each form of kayak fishing presents you with different paddling options. Additionally, it also means that a specific type of kayak will be needed to meet the needs of those precise conditions.

Freshwater Kayak Fishing

Still Water

Still water can be any water body from a large lake all the way down to a small farm pond. If you will be frequently paddling on smaller water bodies, you need to go for a lightweight, short and a kayak with a high degree of initial stability. This means that both recreational and sit-on-top kayaks will be perfect for this situation. On the other hand, if you will be fishing on large water bodies of still water, then you will have to cover a lot of ground and distance, in order to reach those prime, fishing locations. Therefore, when fishing on large water bodies of still water, your main priority should be speed over maneuverability and ease of transport. Thus, a slim, long, and fast sit-in kayak that comes with a low degree of rocker and a lower degree of initial stability would be an appropriate choice for such fishing locations.

Moving water

Moving water refers to anything ranging from blackwater, sedate, swiftly moving clear stream as well as a river with rapids. In this regard, there are specific types of fishing kayaks, which are best suited for fishing moving water. However, there is one feature that remains constant when fishing on such areas. You will be encountering a current propelling your fishing vessel forward. Chances are also high that you may encounter some obstacles such as concealed rocks and tree stumps. When kayak fishing in moving water, maneuverability should be your main priority. Therefore, go for wide, short, sit-in kayaks, with a high degree of secondary stability and soft chines. It should also have a high rocker degree. Such kayaks are the best for this conditions, although you can still come across certain sit-on-top models that can work well in these waters.

Saltwater Kayak Fishing

Offshore Waters

These are waters going up to 70 feet deep or even more. However, if you are a kayak angler, offshore waters are generally vast waters with large skies, which might intimidate you and make you feel very small. Offshore kayaking will always require you to paddle for long distances where you may face steep waves and stiff winds at some point during the course of your fishing trip. A slim, long kayak, which has a moderate rocker degree is perfect for this type of fishing.

It is also advisable to choose a kayak that is longer than usual, in order to get that extra sense of security. Despite the huge skies and big waters, your kayak fishing trip will be less intimidating. However, it is good to note that most anglers going for kayak offshore fishing prefer sit-on-top kayaks. This might be because they have slim chances of sinking and it is easier to re-board the kayak, if they capsize by accident.

On the other hand, a slim, long and sit-in kayak tends to come with a more efficient hull design as compared to a slim, sit-on-top kayak. Therefore, a long, slim, sit-in kayak will obviously be faster and will need significantly less paddling effort. Therefore, day touring kayaks will be ideal for such fishing, since they are designed with such features. Another benefit of using sit-in kayaks in these fishing situations, is the fact that they come with a higher degree of secondary stability their sit-on-top counterparts, making them desirable in confused seas or rough waters. As you know, when you are paddling in the ocean, water can change any time without notice.

Inshore Waters

Inshore waters are those waters close to the shoreline, with a depth of less of up to 70 feet. However, as a kayak angler, you will be encountering many bays, creeks, estuaries, sounds and inlets in saltwater marshes. Since the angler will be paddling for long distances and may encounter steep waves and stiff winds, slim, long kayaks with a moderate rocker degree are ideal for these fishing conditions.

Just like the offshore fishing, most kayak anglers opt for sit-on-top kayaks, since they rarely sink and the paddler can re-board the boat, if it happens to capsize or is thrown off the cockpit. On the other hand, a professional boat seller will tell you that a slim, long, sit-in kayak has a superior hull design as compared to a slim, long sit-on-top kayak. They also require minimal effort to paddle and are much faster. This makes them a better choice for such fishing conditions. Moreover, sit-in kayaks tend to have a higher secondary stability degree as compared to sit-on-top kayaks. Therefore, for both inshore and offshore fishing, a slim, sit-in kayak is the most ideal.

Sit-on-top, Recreational and Day-touring Kayaks

Sit-on-top Kayaks

You might have come across the two terms, sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks and in your mind you know a kayak is a kayak, right? Well, the main difference between the two is the fact that a sit-on-top kayak does not have an enclosed cockpit. Apart from that, the sit-on-top variety is fitted with drain holes in the bilge, for allowing water that enters the cockpit to escape. Moreover, sit-on-top kayaks feature a double hull construction. This simply implies that there is no enclosed air space, in between the outer and inner hulls. This makes them practically unsinkable. You will also find out that most sit-on-top kayaks are made from roto-molded polyethylene plastic, which makes them extremely durable and tough. The main disadvantage is that this heavy duty plastic comes at a cost, which is additional weight. Most sit-on-top kayaks measure approximately 10-16 feet, and come with a wide beam. These features give them a high degree of initial stability. They are also the most commonly used fishing boats, which can be attributed to their extreme initial stability and wide-open cockpits. However, due to their poor secondary stability plus the lack of a skeg to help them in course maintenance, they should be mainly used in calm waters. They don’t handle swift currents, high winds and large waves particularly well, meaning they should not be frequently exposed to such conditions.

  • Pros
  • Relatively affordable
  • Tough
  • High degree of initial stability
  • Easy to enter and exit
  • Presence of live bait wells, rod holders, and coolers.
  • Cons
  • low degree of secondary stability
  • relatively slow
  • require more effort to paddle
  • quite heavy
  • The paddler is exposed to the elements.
Recreational Kayaks

What separates recreational kayaks from sit-on-top kayaks, is the presence of large, enclosed cockpits as well as soft-chined hulls. They also have a moderate rocker degree. Also, most of the recreational kayaks you can find on the market today are usually constructed from rotationally-molded polyethylene plastic. This makes them tough and durable, but heavy. Moreover, with their single-hull construction and lack of holds and bulkheads, they are more suitable for calm-water fishing as well as protected inshore waters. However, with proper outfitting, they can become excellent fishing kayaks due to their high degree of initial stability. Also, it is easy to enter and exit these kayaks, thanks to their extra-large cockpits. When it comes to dimensions, they usually have a length of 8 to 14 feet. They also have a more efficient hull design, as compared to sit-on-top kayaks. They are an excellent choice for fishing on still waters, protected inshore waters or even moving waters.

  • Pros
  • Quite affordable
  • High degree of secondary stability
  • The paddler is protected from the elements by the enclosed cockpit
  • Cons
  • Not appropriate for rough areas
  • Slow
  • Require more paddling effort as compared to recreational kayaks
  • Heavy

Points to Consider When Choosing a Fishing Kayak

Skill level

When buying a kayak, your skill level should play a significant role towards your decision-making. For example, if you are a beginner, it is advisable to start kayaking on calm waters, using a short and wide kayak, which is highly maneuverable and has a higher degree of initial stability. This way, you will be more confident and you will feel more secure as you stay upright. Moreover, you will not struggle with controlling the raft. Therefore, both recreational and sit-on-top kayaks are ideal for a beginner kayak angler. However, if you have operated kayaks for a while and you already have some skills, then you can choose a slimmer, longer kayak, with less maneuverability and less initial stability, in exchange of higher degree of secondary stability and greater speed. This way, you can go for longer distances and you will be able to access prime fishing locations.

Type of Construction

When buying a fishing kayak, it is important to consider its construction features. For example, polyethylene kayaks tend to be the heaviest. Their main advantage is their durability and toughness. This makes them perfect for fishing around oyster beds and along rocky shorelines. However, due to their significantly diminished hull design than composite or wood kayaks, they are much slower and consume more energy when paddling. On the other hand, wood kayaks are much lighter than the polyethylene models. Their hulls are also much stiffer. They therefore make a great choice for fishing kayaks due to their high speed as well as secondary stability that required to fight big fish. When it comes to composite kayaks, they can be molded into various shapes, which is not possible with polyethylene and wood. Their hull designs are generally the most efficient among the three. Although composite kayaks tend to be lighter than the polyethylene ones, they are much heavier than wood kayaks and more expensive.

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About the author


Hi, I’m Brian Bradshaw. I’m a super duper mega hiking enthusiast, with a love for everything that has to do with outdoors, hiking, gear, footwear and more.

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