Find The Best Fishing Kayak: Our Ratings & Reviews

If you are a fishing enthusiast like myself, then you know that there’s no bigger thrill than landing your first large walleye or reeling in a gigantic northern pike. In my opinion fishing happens to be one of the most relaxing outdoor sports there is. Unfortunately I can’t say the same thing about shopping for outdoor gear.

When I sought out to find the right kayak for my excursions, I started to get extremely stressed out because of all the choices at every single outdoor store I went to. As a result, I ended up doing tons of research online – and I’m now saving you the countless hours of effort I had to put in to find the right model to fit my needs. So let’s cut to the chase. You probably want to know, what’s the best fishing kayak? What I found is that there are many pros and cons for each model, but ultimately I had to find what I felt worked the best for my own situation. My comparison chart below will allow you to compare cost, average amazon rating and my overall value grade on an A-F Scale.  For more detailed information on our favorites, continue reading past the chart for our fishing kayak reviews.

Our Comparison Chart:

PictureBrandRatingPriceOur Grade
PictureBrandRatingPriceOur Grade
Lifetime Sport Fisher with Paddles and Backrests (Olive Green, 10-Feet)4.7$$A+
Old Town 10-Feet Vapor 10 Angler Recreational (Camo)4.6$$A+
Riot Escape 12 Angler Sit-On-Top Flatwater(Sand, 12-Feet)4.0$$$B+
Sun Dolphin Excursion sit-in, 10-Feet, Olive4.5$A+
Perception Sport Pescador 12 Angler (Sand) 4.8$$$A
Pelican Castaway 100, Khaki4.0$B
Emotion Renegade XT Forest Green3.8$$B-

Comparison Chart Key:

    • Picture
    • Brand
    • Rating – Average Rating for all users on Amazon.com.  This will help you see if other anglers are buying a model you are interested in or not.
    • Price – Estimated Prices for all users on Amazon.com.  Prices can change on location, inventory and other factors frequently.  Here is how we decided to break it down for you:  $ = $299 – $499, $$ = $499-$599, $$$ = $599 – $699, $$$$ = $700 & Up
    • Our Grade:  This is our total value grade on a scale of A-F.  We assign this value as a direct result of a combination of user ratings, overall value for the cost, and reputation of the brand.  This should give you a very good idea if you will be satisfied overall with your purchase.

So what is a Fishing Kayak and why would you want to use one?

A fishing kayak is a boat that’s typically operated by one person, or sometimes two depending on the type of boat that you are in. It’s specifically made for the function of angling as a sport and nothing else. People that are into competitive kayaking will probably do best by sticking to the models that are manufactured specifically for competition. Those that are looking to spend a lazy afternoon or weekend out on a lake catching largemouth bass – you are in the right place. These small crafted boats are perfect for getting yourself out onto the lake away from all the hustle of where larger boats are at, giving you an advantage over other anglers as you cast your line in an area blessed with peace and tranquil waters. Fish generally seem to avoid noisy and busy areas unless the water is very deep, so any serious angler knows that a having a kayak engineered specifically for catching fish is an absolute must have.

What Type Should I Buy?

This is going to depend largely on what your goals are. In a perfect world, you will be purchasing one that exactly fits your needs. There are a few different types I have broken down for you below, so you can figure out what model will suit your goals.

Sit In Kayak: Sit ins are great for long fishing trips. Don’t buy one of these if you plan on standing while you fish, as it will become unstable and extremely difficult to balance due to the way they are manufactured. There is less space to move around in, but they also tend to be more comfortable for longer periods of time. They also have better storage that tends to stay more dry than sit on top kayaks.

Sit on Top Kayak: Sit on tops are awesome for anglers that like to stand. You won’t have the same amount of storage that the Sit-In’s have, but you will definitely have more mobility. These are better for people that may live on a lake, or people that may only spend a few hours fishing instead of an entire day. They tend to be less comfortable when you sit in them and have less storage. But you can also stand, giving you a huge advantage if you are after bigger fish.

Tandem Kayaks: Tandems are great for twosomes. If you plan on heading out and angling at the lake with your friend or significant other, this can be an awesome option to take advantage of. Most Tandem models are sit on tops, giving one person the option to stand, while the other one sits. You could attempt to have both parties standing but I would not recommend it as they will become more unstable with the weight distribution being so uneven.

Our Top Selections In More Detail:

Let’s take a look at our top selections in a little more detail. The 10 listed above in our comparison chart are the best models you can buy, period. The options listed below are the ones that I wrestled with exclusively before finally settling on my purchase of the Lifetime 10 foot sport fisher, which I will get into below.

Old Town 10 Feet Vapor 10 Angler Recreational:

Image #2This was one of the models I literally almost bought. If it hadn’t been for my wife urging me to look at the tandem options (she loves to fish for bluegill), I likely would have gone home with this one the same day. It’s extremely stable and has a lot of room in the cockpit which is great for single anglers. It has plenty of storage and the seat is extremely comfortable with built in thigh pads and adjustable braces to help with balance.

This is extremely important when learning to control the boat if you are a novice in this area. It has a molded paddle park and cup holder which is awesome for cracking open an afternoon beer on the lake. It also has two rod holders behind the seat as well as a small anchor that gets the job done. I am not the only one that has considered this model from the people I’ve talked to. All you need to do is check the outstanding ratings on amazon.com to see that this model is a winner.

Riot Escape 12 Angler Sit On Top Flatwater:

Image #3The Riot Escape is the Cadillac of all the brands that we looked at. It’s the most expensive and it also comes with the most bells and whistles. It has 5 different places to stash your rod, and it has a rudder system that the cheaper models do not have. Like the Old Town 10, it has a molded cup holder which is great for convenience.

For me it was not as comfortable as the Old Town 10, but it’s also not a sit-in. It does balance EXTREMELY well when you are standing up though, which is a huge deal if you are someone that really likes to stand when you are angling. There is also tons of storage on this model, which others are lacking. If you have a big budget, then this model is a good way to spend your hard earned money.

Sun Dolphin Excursion Sit-In:

Image #4The Sun Dolphin is what I would call one the “easiest on the budget” for the quality you get. The going rate at Amazon.com is typically under $500.00 and that’s a huge bargain when coming from a reputable manufacturer like Sun Dolphin. Like the Old Town 10, it comes with two flush rod holders, and it has the extra perk of coming equipped with a swivel mount as well.

The cockpit is a very good size which is great for bigger guys, and it also has a storage area with a latch and cover that protects the contents of whatever you put inside it. It has adjustable foot braces, and the Hull’s design makes it extremely easy to maneuver. The one thing it does not have is the thigh support for longer trips like the Old Town 10 does. The seat does support your upper back very well though, and for the cost, this model is one of the better choices you can make.

Perception Sport Pescador 12:

Image #5This is hands down one of the best models you can buy. What I loved about the Perception Sport Pescador is the fact that it has a HUGE storage area behind the seat. It’s also extremely open giving you a huge range of mobility for a sit in, and unlike most sit ins, it is open across the top to give you a stand on top type of feeling to it even though you are hunkered down inside the boat.

It has paddle parks and comes with a Scotty Baitcaster Rod Holder equipped as well. The 64 pound anchor kit does a great job keeping you centered and anchored in place. This is one of the better “high end” choices you can make as an angler. If your budget is up to the $600 range, than this model should be something you strongly consider picking up.

Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher Tandem:

Image #1This is the model I ended up purchasing myself. For me as a single angler it probably would have been a toss-up between the Old Town Vapor or the Pescador. The main reason I went with the Lifetime 10 sport is plainly because my wife likes to fish with me, and this gave us the option of going out together. It allows me to stand if I feel the need while my wife sits. Technically it fits up to 3 people, but the other 2 would need to be pretty small to make it work.

It’s not quite as comfortable as the  Pescador, but it does the trick for what we use it for. We rarely go out for more than a few hours a day and for us this meets our comfort level enough for us to have made the choice as a tandem option. It came equipped with 2 piece sport paddles and it has a dry storage compartment which is great if you accidentally flip which we have already twice.

Wrap-Up:

Hopefully my research has paid off in helping you find the right choice. It was extremely tough to narrow down so many options when putting together our fishing kayak reviews. I know I was happy to do the research and I’m glad I made the choice I did and I look forward to using it every time I go out on the lake. Overall, there are many options to choose from, so hopefully we have given you enough insight you can find the right model for you. It took me a while, but I’m happy I was able to do the research I did when I was trying to find the best fishing kayak. Now all that’s left is for you to make a choice, and get out there to enjoy the great outdoors!